Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 5th

The Gentleness of Love

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9

This can only be described as sensitive love, a love deeply desirous of blessing someone and finding gentle, tender ways of communicating that. Perhaps the first need in loving is to learn to do it gently. Love often has to be strong and tough. It must sometimes rebuke, but it has to learn how to do so gently. That is what Paul did. He came among them as a nursing mother feeding her children, delighted to minister to their need. When I was a young Christian, I came under the ministry of Dawson Trotman, the founder of the Navigators. Dawson was a strong personality. He could be demanding. He was self-disciplined to an enormous degree, and he expected self-discipline of those who worked with him. That is a mark of the Navigators yet today, wherever they minister. But when I met alone with Dawson, he always was gentle. He always spoke directly to me, and he seemed aware of my need and my capacity. I often thought of him as being like Paul. Paul could be stern and sharp, but when he was with someone alone, he was gentle. That is a mark of a true shepherd.

When Paul says, Because we loved you so much, he uses an unusual phrase, not often found in Scripture. Literally, it means a yearning, a longing for you. I sometimes feel this myself, especially when I am talking to a young person. I feel my heart longing to help them, to bless them, to teach them, to lead them, to fulfill them. That is how parents feel about their children. There is a yearning after them, an affectionate desire to see them blossom and go in the right direction. This is characteristic of those who seek to minister to others.

Another mark of a loving spirit is found in verse 9 where Paul speaks of his toil and hardship and how he and his friends worked day and night in order not to be a burden to them while they preached the gospel to them. Hard work! That is a sign of a true shepherd, a true pastor. Every Jewish boy had to learn a trade, and Paul's trade was tent making. Rather than take offerings from his new converts, he worked long hours into the night, making tents. Perhaps, as they listened to him teaching them during the daytime, these Thessalonians noticed that Paul's hands were not the cultured, soft hands of a rich man who had never worked. They were, rather, the hands of a laborer who worked hard at his trade, and they knew it was in order that he might bless them and not be a burden on them.

Thank you for your great and gentle love, Father, and thank you for equipping me to love others in the same way.

Life Application

Is there a relationship you have where you especially need to show the gentleness of love at this time?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Whatever became of Integrity?

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