1 Thessalonians 2:7, 8
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:…
It is very interesting to observe what a wealth of affection St. Paul poured out upon the Churches which came under his care. He was not satisfied with declaring the facts of the gospel and demonstrating the truth of them to the conviction of his hearers. He was very different from a cold philosopher who simply aims at establishing a certain thesis. Deep feeling entered into his work. A touching gentleness and affectionateness may be felt as the pervading tone of his treatment of his converts. He does not behave as a master who is ambitious to lord it over the heritage of Christ. He is like a nurse with her children. The example of the great apostle is worthy of the study of all Christian teachers.
I. THE GOSPEL IS BEST COMMENDED BY AFFECTIONATENESS IN THE CHRISTIAN PREACHER. The gospel bases its first claims on its own truth and reasonableness, and it is necessary that men should be convinced on these points if due respect for the rights of the human intellect is to be observed. Nevertheless the most persuasive power is not to be found in hard reason; nor does it reside in the splendors of eloquence. It is much more effective when it comes from simple, natural affectionate-ness. Men are more vulnerable in the heart than in the head. The Christian teacher must attack both strongholds; he will be foolish indeed if he neglect the more accessible one. It is often seen in experience that affectionateness conquers where convincing logic falls dead, and where glowing rhetoric only dazzles the hearers.
1. The influence of the preacher depends chiefly on his affectionateness. His relations with his hearers are personal. He is more than the herald. He is the shepherd of the flock, the father or brother of the family, the nurse of the babes in Christ. Thus ties of love between pastor and people not only make the association in Church life happy; they also afford the greatest aids to the work of the ministry.
2. The truth of the gospel is best revealed through affectionateness. The gospel is no dreamy dogma, no hard law, no pompous manifesto. It is a message from a father to his children, and a story of love in death. The Bible is a most human book, homely, brotherly, pathetic in its affectionate character. But this character of the Bible and of the gospel is marred and almost lost to view when harsh language and cold feelings accompany the preaching of it. The gospel of love should be offered in a kindred spirit of love.
II. A RIGHT FEELING OF THE SPIRIT OF THE GOSPEL WILL LEAD TO AFFECTIONATENESS IN THE CHRISTIAN PREACHER. It is most important that the desired affectionateness should be genuine. The pretence of it is mere hypocrisy. Affectionate language which does not spring from a heart of love is a mockery. It is better to have an honest hardness than this assumed unctuousness. It is important, also, that the affectionateness should be healthy and manly, and should not degenerate into effeminate sentimentality. The gospel itself should inspire the right affectionateness.
1. The spirit of the gospel being love, if we truly receive the gospel it will inspire love. The greatest change which it produces in men is to cast out selfishness, and to give a heart of love to God and man.
2. We best show our love to Christ by loving our brethren. We love Christ in them. He who loves Christ warmly will have the spirit which St. Paul manifested to the Churches under his care. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: