1 Thessalonians 2:8 – “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
Paul demonstrated such a shepherd’s heart as he wrote to each of the churches that he was ministering to. First Thessalonians 2:8 is great example of this. He expressed that he was “affectionately desirous” of the people of Thessalonica. Clearly, his heart was for the people’s understanding of Christ and what it meant to follow Christ. I’m curious who the ones are in your life that you are “affectionately desirous” for. Who are the people that you truly love and long to see grow as disciples of Christ who make disciples of Christ?
What Paul says next is crucial for us to think about. He said that he was so “affectionately desirous” of them that he was ready to share the gospel with them. Its interesting to think about what Paul is saying. He has a true love for these people to the point that he was willing to share the gospel with them. What can be inferred from this is that when we fail to share the gospel with those people around us, we are making a statement of our affection for them. You say you love your neighbor, yet withhold the message of salvation from them. That speaks to a very insincere and shallow love. As God’s children, we are called to love God first and to love others second. True love for others has perspective. It recognizes their spiritual condition apart from Christ. True love for others recognizes that apart from them knowing Christ, they will endure the worst possible punishment. True affection for another shares the gospel.
Yet, of course Paul says more than just sharing the gospel with them; he talks of sharing his own life with these people. He loved them to the point that he was willing to NOT ONLY share the gospel, but also share his very life with them. As I write this, I’m tempted to say that Paul was willing to sacrifice his personal comfort for these people. Of course, it is true that he sacrificed his personal comfort. But when I write that, I have in mind simple things that we might do to show love for a neighbor. Shovel their driveway, mow their yard, have them over to our house, host a block party, be the house on the street that gives the whole candy bars at Halloween so everybody in the neighborhood knows that our house is THE place to be, etc.
When we think of personal comfort being sacrificed for the sake of showing true love to the world, we think of things so differently than what Paul did. When Paul said that he shared his own self with the Thessalonians, he literally meant that he was willing to sacrifice his life for the sake of these people knowing Christ and following him. He was willing to endure hardship like we have never seen. We scoff over the difficulty of mowing someone’s yard, while Paul was beaten and shipwrecked.
What would it look like for us to be desirously affectionate for someone to the point that we would not just share the gospel, but our own selves? Lord, send us out!