- 1 Thessalonians 2:4-9 (NKJV) But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
The apostle Paul was a man’s man—he had the scars and hair-raising stories to prove it. He was also a communicator and understood the power of using word pictures to help illustrate what he was trying to get across.
I’m a communicator by trade also. I understand the power of a good word picture in communicating effectively. Sprinkled throughout all my sermons and presentations you will find carefully thought out word pictures (illustrations, metaphors, etc.) to help people understand the truths and principles that I am trying to teach them.
So imagine my surprise recently when reading Paul’s letter to an ancient church in Greece called Thessalonica. He reaches a point in his letter where he wants to express how he feels about them. Picture this: he’s scrambling around in his brain trying to come up with the just-right example that will convey his deep feelings for them. (I’ve been there—you probably have also.)
So what do you suppose a man’s man would come up with? Maybe some sanctified version of a beer commercial like, “I luv you man.” Or maybe something from the sport’s world like, We’re all on the same team, pulling together, looking out for one another, sacrificing self for the team, blah, blah, blah”?
Well here’s the shocker, none of that manly stuff for grizzled and battle-scarred Paul. He scrambles around in his brain and the best example he can come up with is (collective gasp) a nursing mother! What!?
Perhaps some of you were blessed to have grown up in an affirming and nurturing home; but many people haven’t. The last thing they think of in this harsh “bottom-line”, “suck it up”, “play hurt”, “mind your own business, thank you”, and “get out of my way” world is the tender affectionate love of a mother nursing her child.
And the sad thing about it is that everything they do—even in their interaction with those they love and care for is run through that dirty filter of harshness. The result is that even their caring deeds and loving words often come across harsh and cold.
But what if being tender is not only OK but the best policy? What if being gentle is the benchmark when interacting with people. Sure, there will be times when the truth will be hard and the brutal realities of life will be harsh, but I can think of no one I’d rather be facing those hard truths and brutal realities with than someone with the fierce and tender heart of a mother taking care of her child.
Prayer: Oh God, change our hearts and make them tender so that the overflow of our lives will be nourishing and strengthening. Help us to be healers and lovers; kind and gentle. Help us to be…well…like YOU.