1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children:…
The Apostle Paul had, in the former part of the chapter, reminded his Thessalonian brethren in what manner the gospel had been brought and preached to them, viz., "not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile." After thus stating what was not the character of his ministrations among them, he proceeds to state what it was: "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (ver. 7, 8). What a beautiful description is this of the feelings and conduct of St. Paul to his Thessalonian converts! It is proper that I should first inform you that the apostle was addressing real Christians, truly converted characters: "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain" (ver. 1). So in the first chapter, vers. 2-7. He, indeed, bears them all in his heart, but not equally so: some are closer there than others. Think you not that although our Lord had a most tender and affectionate spirit towards all the Jews, He had yet a peculiar and stronger affection for those who faithfully and closely followed Him? At the same time, of course, any unfair or undue partiality is to be carefully avoided.
1. "We were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children." Gentleness, or kindness, and softness of manner, and of treatment, peculiarly characterizes a nursing mother. Her little infant is a tender, delicate plant, and will not bear rough usage. The outward frame of an infant is so very weak, that it is liable to sustain an injury even by improper handling, much more by any violent treatment; and its nerves are so very fine and tender, that any great shock would weaken them, perhaps ruin them entirely.
2. The very idea of a nursing mother is connected with the nourishment which she gives to her child. As a mother will not give her infant any strange food, so will not a faithful and judicious minister add anything to, nor take away from, what is written in the Bible.
3. Another characteristic of a nursing mother, by which she shows her gentleness towards her child, is being patient towards it — in not only waiting upon it in all the kind and affectionate offices of a parent, but waiting for it; giving it time, not hurrying it, but bearing with its infirmities, it may be, even with its petulance, and fretfulness, and oppositions. So the "servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24). We must not be disappointed if the tender plants of our spiritual nursery do not thrive as we could wish or hope. We must make allowances for their natural infirmities, as well as for their spiritual weakness.
4. The apostle goes on to say, "So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls." Here, again, the image of an affectionate mother strikingly represents the devotedness of affection which the apostle bore towards his spiritual children. Many a mother has sacrificed her life for the sake of preserving the life of her child! And is not this precisely the spirit and the conduct of St. Paul? What was his language to the Corinthians? "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you" (2 Corinthians 12:15). Would that we could feel and manifest the same devotedness to our Master's cause, and the same love for souls! There remains one point to be considered in connection with the declaration of the apostle in my text, and a very important point it is, viz., the motive or reason which he assigns for the affectionate interest which he took, and the devoted zeal which he manifested, on behalf of his Thessalonian brethren. It was this: "Because ye were dear unto us." And here, again, the image of a nursing mother will illustrate this feature in the apostle's character, and in the character of every faithful minister. What is it that impels the fond and anxious parent to cherish and nourish the child of her womb? Does she do it from any interested motives? Will she be repaid for all her care and all her labour? Not always. She does it for this simple but strong reason, because her child is dear to her. That which is a natural feeling in the bosom of the mother, by Divine grace becomes a spiritual affection in the breast of every faithful minister of the gospel. Thus the spirit of a faithful minister of Christ is an affectionate, devoted, and enlarged spirit. And why? Because it is the "Spirit of Christ." Of Him, indeed, it might be truly said, in the days of His flesh, "He was gentle among us," and was "affectionately desirous of us." Do you not remember the affecting and affectionate image under which He represented Himself as feeling for perverse Jerusalem? (Matthew 23:37).
Parallel VersesKJV: But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: