Love in Action
Begins with the positives in Paul's appraisal of his ministry. We are to share with others in gentleness and by caring about people. The Good Samaritan.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends! How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Well, I certainly trust so, bless your heart. I hope everything’s alright at your house. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. I’m glad to be back with you to share from God’s inerrant, infallible, eternal Word, the Bible. You and I are walking around in 1 Thessalonians; we’re in the second chapter now, and we found there’s a list of negatives that Paul talks about in his ministry: No deceit, no uncleanness, no guile, no unflattering words, no covetousness, and no seeking of glory or praise from other people. That’s verses 3, 5, and 6 in Chapter 2. Do you see that? Some of you have your Bibles or New Testaments open as I talk, I know that. Now if you’re driving to work, don’t try that, because you may run into something. You’ll just have to listen.
Now, (and this is the positive side of it) he said, “We were put in trust with the gospel. We were allowed of God,” (and that word allowed comes from a root that has the idea about a gift.) God gave it to us; it’s not yours in a proprietary sense, it’s yours because He allowed it.) “We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel.” Anything you have today that’s useful and that produces a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment is something that God allowed you to have. Conversely, those things about which you and I may grumble and complain are also things that God allowed us to have. God allowed the wind to come and destroy the property of Job, and he allowed the Sabeans to fall upon the servants and the cattle. He allowed the boils to come. Satan sent them, but God allowed it.
I have to remember time and time again, when I would complain about what may be happening in my life, I have to remember I’m in God’s hands, and what hits me, what comes my way, either of joy or of sorrow, of things I like or things I dislike, are part of His plan. And when He’s finished with me, He’ll have a product that satisfies Him. Peter said, “Now the God of all grace, after, that is, ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect” (that means grown-up, established, strengthened, settled.) God uses the abrasives of life to make a better product. Oh, I don’t like that, but that’s how it is. And He does right; He does everything right. So I accept, you and I, we accept what God allows.
Now, responsibilities are also things that God allows. Oftentimes, I’ve counseled with people who have said, “I’ve got too much responsibility!” Well, responsibility is what God allows you to have because He knows that you can shoulder it and carry it through. So this is a responsibility verse here: “We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, to believe in you.” This is a Greek word; I think it’s pistuo. Let me look at my Greek New Testament a minute, so I’m sure I’m not telling you a story. Pistuthenai: there it is. It’s a word that means “I believe in you.” Isn’t that something? God looks at a fallen son or daughter of Adam, frail, fragile, failing oftentimes, stumbling oftentimes, but saved by the grace of God. Born again through faith in the Lord Jesus, indwelt by the Holy Spirit now, and God looks at him and says, “I believe in you. I’m going to trust you with the most precious thing in all the world: The gospel.”
And when you realize that that is what God has done for us…not only gotten us in shape to get to Heaven, not only adopted us into His family, but He has trusted us with the most precious commodity in all the universe, and that’s the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! He said, “I believe in you. I’m going to trust you with this.” That’s great.
“So,” Paul says, “When I talk, I have to remember, I have to please God.” Why? Well, because He’s the One who trusted me with this message. My first responsibility is to please God, not just people, because God knows my heart, and He’s the one that trusted me with it. So that was the first positive.
The second is in verse 7. He said, “We were gentle among you, even as a nurse,” and that could be read as mother. Other versions talk about a nursing mother when they translate this. “As a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” Now, it’s one thing to take care of somebody else’s kids. It’s something entirely different to take care of your own. Isn’t it true? And so, he said, “I was gentle like a mother taking care of her own children.” And this word cherisheth means giving food and care, nourishment and tender care. There are two Greek words there in your Greek New Testament that are put together in that verse that mean nourishment and tender care.
Ken Taylor’s paraphrase has a footnote that says, “Gentleness is not often a respected quality; power and assertiveness seem to gain more respect in our society, even though none of us likes to be bullied. Gentleness is love in action.” That’s a nice phrase, isn’t it? “Gentleness is love in action.” Being considerate, meeting the needs of others, allowing time for the other person to talk (oh, that’s a good one, isn’t it?) and being willing to learn. It is an essential trait for both men and women. We all need to maintain a gentle attitude in our relationships with others. That’s a very good comment there. “We were gentle.”
Now, how do you put that concept to work in your own life? This, it seems to me, is one of the facets of what we call the golden rule: “Whatsoever, therefore, ye would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them.” The golden rule says, “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” It’s important to me to have people listen when I speak. It’s important to me to have people understand how I feel. It’s important to me to be given a chance to express my opinion. As an individual, these are important things. Well, if that be so, then just shift all of those concepts over into your treatment of the other person! It’s important to the other person to have a hearing, to have some feeling of sympathy given by another. “You know how I feel.” It’s important to have a chance to express one’s opinion. It’s important to be noticed as a person, not just as a statistic.
See, all of this business of being gentle has in it the element of the golden rule, really. Put yourself in the other person’s place. How would you want someone to speak to you in this particular situation? Oh, I tell you, when you begin to put the Bible into shoe leather, it certainly is practical, isn’t it? Gentle. Now he said, “We were gentle among you, even as a mother cherishes her own children.” Not somebody else’s. Maybe she takes care of others. Maybe she does a little babysitting. Maybe she runs a daycare center, and she’s good with them. But when it comes to her own kids, there’s a special relationship there, and he said, “You were treated as though you were my very own.”
And then he said, “I was affectionately desirous of you.” That has to do with the desire that anyone who is exhibiting real love has for the well-being of the other person. “Affectionately desirous of you.” Do you know that people can really tell whether or not you care about them? There is a certain aura, a certain atmosphere around each human being that transmits attitudes. Can you tell when somebody likes you or dislikes you? Can you tell when somebody is merely putting up with you? Of course you can. The atmosphere is a little chilly, isn’t it, when somebody is just coping with you, or putting up with you.
But when somebody really cares about you as a friend, a neighbor, a family member, perhaps, or a loved one, when there’s real care and concern: “affectionately desirous.” What is it? “I care about you and I want the best for you.” That’s what that means. “I care about you and I want the best for you.” When that happens, oh, you can feel it. I’ve told you once or twice, I guess, about the man who said to me as I was trying to speak to him of Christ. We were on an ocean-going boat, and leaning there up against the rail as the vessel plowed its way through the waves, I was speaking to him of matters eternal, and he turned to me impatiently and said, “I don’t want to be one of your blankety-blank converts,” he said. “I just want somebody to care about me.”
Oh, the world is full of hurting people who wish somebody cared about them. Now, they’re not interested in repenting from their sins, and they’re not interested in adopting a different lifestyle at that point. Change always follows concern on the part of the other person; it doesn’t precede it. You don’t say to somebody, “You clean up your act and then I’ll care about you.” No, the Good Samaritan found this man lying in his own blood and the dust of the roadway, wounded and half-dead, and he took care of him as he was. He went to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and put him on his own steed. He then became a pedestrian, and walked him to the nearest inn. And then it said he took care of him.
Did you ever take care of a badly wounded person? During the night, the fever rises, and there’s restlessness and pain. There was no sleep for the man that night, for sure. And then, in the morning, he said to the innkeeper, “You take care of him, and I’ll pay you if you spend anything more than what I’m giving you now.” Concern: It interrupted his schedule, it dirtied his hands, it made a pedestrian out of him, it robbed him of a night’s sleep and it put him in debt because he cared.
Is there a limit to how much I can care about other people? Well, I suppose the limits of what we call good sense. You’re not going to risk your life or your family’s life; you’re not going to do something outlandish. But it seems to me, beloved, that most of us could stand a good deal more of what Paul calls “affectionately desirous” feelings about other people. What do you think about that?
The Bible nowhere asks you to be odd or different or wild or outlandish or foolish or reckless; the Bible is in favor of careful management and thrift, but the Bible also teaches me that I’d better be concerned about other people if I’m going to reach them for my blessed Lord.
Dear Father today, oh, may we be concerned about the people for whom Thou dost care so deeply. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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