Summary: A Mother’s 1) Gentleness (1 Thessalonians 2:7), 2) Intimate affection (1 Thessalonians 2:8a) and 3) Sacrificial love (1 Thessalonians 2:8b)
Jamie Lynne Grumet has become the poster mom of attachment parenting. With her almost-four-year-old son, Aram, at her breast, the 26 year old Los Angeles mother’s turn as a Time cover model has given the world a lingering visual of what so-called extended breastfeeding looks like. Although the magazine doesn’t hit stands until Friday, it went from zero to outrage in seconds flat. For one thing, it’s rare to see a mom publically breastfeed a child who is older than one, maybe two. In an interview on Time’s site, Ms. Grumet, who was breastfed herself until she was six, discusses her choices - including the fact that she also breastfeeds her five-year-old son, who was adopted from Ethiopia in 2010. As for people who shudder at extended breastfeeding, she says:“They are people who tell me they’re going to call social services on me or that it’s child molestation. I really don’t think I can reason with those people. But ... people have to realize this is biologically normal. It’s not socially normal. The more people see it, the more it’ll become normal in our culture. That’s what I’m hoping. I want people to see it.”
The Apostle Paul faced many critiques against himself and his ministry. At the climax of his impassioned defense before his critics recorded in 1 Thessalonians 2, he reveals a most attractive warmth from deep within. He was a man of feelings, a man of warmth, a gentle-man! The very language of these verses oozes a sensitivity not often associated with Paul. To describe his own gentleness, he uses the soft, warm picture of a mother nursing and cherishing her own children (Demarest, G. W., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1984). Vol. 32: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 32 : 1, 2 Thessalonians / 1, 2 Timothy / Titus. The Preacher’s Commentary series (56). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.)
Regardless of the mothering instruction or example that you have had, if you have lost a child or never had children, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 is instructive in the most important factor: love. `Moms who Love` will impact others beyond what we can imagine. In this section, the Apostle Paul speaks of a mother’s 1) Gentleness (1 Thessalonians 2:7), 2) Intimate affection (1 Thessalonians 2:8a) and 3) Sacrificial love (1 Thessalonians 2:8b) which are the qualities that he sought to exemplify to be a leader for the health of the church.
1) Gentleness (1 Thessalonians 2:7)
1 Thessalonians 2:7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
Paul begins with the important distinction: "but", which contrasts the conduct of his colleagues and him with the sinful behavior of the false teachers (vv. 2, 4). Paul reminded the Thessalonians that instead of operating by the deceitful abusiveness of Satan’s agents, they proved to be gentle among you.
The term gentle is at the heart of this verse. It means being kind, tender and considerate, concerned for the well-being of the other, instead of being severe, or hard (Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (127). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.)
It encompasses a host of other virtues: acceptance, respect, compassion, tolerance of imperfections, patience, tenderheartedness, and loyalty. There is no tenderness quite like a mother’s, and Paul dared to identify with maternal love and care. Greek writers used the term gentle to describe those who dealt patiently and with a mild manner toward those who were difficult—obstinate children, unmanageable students, those who had not reached maturity and were experiencing the inconsistencies and struggles of development (Larson, K. (2000). Vol. 9: I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Holman New Testament Commentary; Holman Reference (23–24). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
It is important to consider that before the care of others is considered, self-consideration is necessary in a particular way. If a nursing mother does not feed herself, she cannot (properly) feed her baby. If she eats certain foods, her baby will get sick. Similarly the spiritual diet of a parent Christian is vitally important to the health of a newer Christian (Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1 Th 2:7). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
Paul explained his degree of gentleness toward the Thessalonians by comparing it to a nursing mother who is tenderly taking care of her own children. The taking of care is at times rendered with the verb "tenderly" which literally means to warm with body heat. The loving mother would take the little one in her arms and warm the child with her own body heat. Such a vivid metaphor perfectly illustrates the kind of personal care the Thessalonians received.