Summary: 2nd. in series on 1 Thessalonians (2 of 8).
HELPING THE BABY GROW UP
INTRO: Just as God uses people to bring the Gospel to the lost, so He uses people to nurture the babes in Christ and help lead them to maturity. The church at Thessalonica was born through the faithful preaching of the Apostle and his helpers, and the church was nurtured through the faithful pastoring that Paul and his friends gave to the infant church. This helped them stand strong in the midst of persecution.
In these verses, Paul reminded them of the kind of ministry he had as he taught and cared for the young church. Three pictures of his ministry appear.
I. THE FAITHFUL STEWARD (2:1-6).
A steward owns nothing, but possesses and uses everything that belongs to his master. Joseph was a steward in the household of Potiphar (Gen. 39:1-6). He managed his master’s affairs and used all his master’s goods to promote his master’s welfare. Every steward one day must give an account of his stewardship (Luke 16:1-2). If he is found unfaithful, he will suffer.
The message of the Gospel is a treasure God has entrusted to us. We must not bury it; we must invest it so it will multiply and produce “spiritual dividends” to God’s glory.
Faithfulness is the most important quality a steward possesses (1 Cor. 4:1-2). He may not be popular in the eyes of men; but he dare not be unfaithful in the eyes of God. The Christian who “plays to the grandstands” will lose God’s approval.
1. - The manner of his ministry (2:1-2). Paul and Silas had been beaten and humiliated at Philippi; yet they came to Thessalonica and preached. Most of us would have taken a vacation or found an excuse not to minister. Paul was courageous--he was not a quitter.
2. - The message of his ministry (2:3a). Here he assured them that his message was true. Paul received this Gospel from God, not from man. It is the only Good News that saves the lost sinner.
3. - The motive of his ministry (2:3b). He was not guilty of “uncleanness” for his motives were pure. It is possible to preach the right message with the wrong motives. Unfortunately, some people in Paul’s day used religion as a means for making money.
Paul was very sensitive about money matters. He did not want to give anyone a reason to accuse him of being a religious salesman. As an apostle, he had the privilege of receiving support. But he gave up that right in order to be free from any possible blame that would disgrace the ministry.
4. - The method of his ministry (2:3c). Paul did not use guile or trickery to win converts. The word translated guile carries the idea of “baiting a hook.” In other words, Paul did not trap people into being saved, the way a clever salesman traps people into buying his product.
II. THE LOVING MOTHER (2:7-8).
The emphasis of the steward is faithfulness; the emphasis on the mother is gentleness. As an apostle, Paul was a man of authority; but he always used his authority in love. The babes in Christ sensed his tender loving care as he nurtured them. He was indeed like a loving mother who cared for her children.
It takes time and energy to care for children. Paul did not turn his converts over to baby-sitters; he made sacrifices and cared for them himself. Paul had patience with the new Christians.
Paul also nourished them. Verse 7 can read “even as a nursing mother cherished her own children.” What is the lesson here? A nursing mother imparts her own life to the child. This is exactly what Paul wrote in verse 8. You cannot be a nursing mother and turn your baby over to someone else. That baby must be in your arms, next to your heart.
Besides making sacrifices, having patience, and giving nourishment, a mother also protects her child. Remember the story in 1 Kings 3:16-28. Paul was willing to give not only the Gospel but his own life as well.
III. THE CONCERNED FATHER (2:9-12).
Paul considered himself a “spiritual father” to the believers at Thessalonica, just as he did toward the saints at Corinth (1 Cor. 4:15).
But the father not only begets the children; he also cares for them. As he defended his own work against false accusations, Paul pointed out three of his duties as the spiritual father to the Thessalonicians.
1. - His work (2:9). The father works to support his family. Even though the Christians in Philippi sent financial help, Paul still made tents and paid his own way. No one could accuse him of using his ministry for his own profit. Later on, Paul used this fact to shame the lazy Christians in the Thessalonician church (2 Thes. 3:6ff).