The Heart Motive of Love
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, because ye were dear unto us.
— 1 Thessalonians 2:8
In the past few Sparkling Gems, we’ve seen how Paul was not motivated by money or glory in his efforts to serve God and spread the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire. However, since he wasn’t interested in fame or fortune, what exactly was his motive for ministry? What was the driving force behind the sacrifices Paul made and the time and energy he spent to preach the Gospel and disciple believers? Today we will conclude our study of First Thessalonians 2 by examining the answer to these important questions.
To be pleasing to the Lord was Paul’s highest aim, and the primary focus of his ministry was relationship. He genuinely cared about the people he was ministering to, and in verse 7, he described his feelings for them. The last thing he wanted to do was abuse them; rather, he wanted to see them grow. He said, “Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:6,7).
In verses 6 and 7, Paul drew a comparison between what he wasn’t and what he was in terms of his attitude and conduct toward the people in the Thessalonian church. Instead of being “burdensome,” he was “gentle.” Like a mother feeding her children, Paul drew them close to his heart to feed them the Word of God and nurture them. All he wanted to do was love the Church. This passage of Scripture paints a very beautiful bond of love and trust — one that should exist between every minister and those whom God has placed under his charge.
In First Thessalonians 2:8, Paul continued, “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, because ye were dear unto us.”
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What did Paul mean when he said he was “affectionately desirous” of the believers in Thessalonica? This phrase is taken from the Greek word homeiromai, and this word is extremely important because it tells us a lot about the heart of the apostle Paul. The word homeiromai was primarily found on the grave markers of children that had died, and it describes what the parents felt for their child. It indicates a deep longing or an affectionate, fervent desire to see the child one more time.
By using this word, Paul was conveying his deep desire to see these Thessalonian believers just one more time. He loved them very much, and like a parent who longs to see again a child who has died, everything within the apostle Paul longed to be able to visit the church of Thessalonica and minister again face to face to these believers whom he held so close to his heart.
Because Paul was so affectionate in his attitude toward the people in Thessalonica, he further expressed, “…We were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
When someone is dear to a person, that person is willing to go to great lengths to bring benefit to that loved one. Here Paul was saying that his desire for the Thessalonian believers’ spiritual welfare was so great that he had a “willingness” in his heart to impart to them as much of himself as he could. The word “willing” in this verse is from the Greek word eudokeo, which means to seek something that is pleasurable. This word carries the idea of something that is delightful and wonderful.
Because Paul loved this church so much, he was pleased to do anything and everything he could for them to help them grow and develop as believers in Christ. This was not something he was being forced to do; it was something that flowed from his heart and brought him a great sense of joy.
What did Paul want to impart to this church? Verse 8 says, “…to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls….” The word “imparted” is the Greek word metadidomi, which carries the idea of exchange. By using this word, Paul was saying he was willing to give a part of himself to them, but he wanted something in exchange: He wanted the church in Thessalonica to give a part of themselves to him. In other words, Paul wanted to have a relationship with the believers to whom God called him to minister.
This is such a crucial lesson for us to learn from Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians — one that will help us remain focused and effective in our own priorities and motives as we fulfill our divine callings. Paul wasn’t in the ministry to get rich or to become famous. Rather, he sincerely wanted to please the Lord with his whole heart. And as a result, he was focused on the needs of the people to whom he ministered. The one thing he sought was an authentic relationship with people so he could minister to them more effectively. Not moved by greed or glory, Paul gave his whole heart to God and to the church.
Every one of us must reflect from time to time on our motives and priorities in serving others. Using First Thessalonians 2 as a guide in examining ourselves will help us maintain steadfastness of character and a deep devotion to God and His people that we need to carry on effectively and with power.
So here’s a parting thought to ponder as you interact with the people in your life each day: When God’s love for others is a burning compassion in your heart — and not merely a concept understood and accepted in your mind — you will look for ways to bless and help others grow and develop into all they can be in Christ because of your love for Him! You won’t feel forced or compelled to do it as a requirement or for the sake of appearances or what others may think of you. Your desire to please the Lord by walking in His ways will help you see people as He sees them. And it’s your ability to see through Jesus’ eyes that will help you treat each person as He would treat them. That’s the key to living life from a heart motive of unconditional love — and that’s the key to pleasing Him!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I want my priorities to be correct about ministering to people. You deeply care for Your people, and I want that same love and compassion to be exactly what motivates me. Help me search my heart and put aside any other ulterior motive so that the care of Your people is the number-one priority on my heart. I am so thankful for the people who have genuinely cared for me and who continue to care for me. I consider it an honor to show genuine love, concern, care, and compassion for my brothers and sisters in the Christian community.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I love God’s people and that I am doing all I can to help them grow in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are many things that vie for my attention, but I have decided that none is as important as ministering to the Lord and to His saints. Because the Holy Spirit has shed the love of God into my heart, I have a deep-seated, genuine love, concern, care, and compassion for the saints in the Christian community. I love God’s people and my love for them is growing greater all the time!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you really care for people? Even more important, what would God say about the way you demonstrate care for people?
- The Holy Spirit has shed the love of God abroad in your heart, but it has to be released to effectively minister to other Are you allowing that God- deposited love to function and flow through you to others?
- What are you doing to help others grow in their relationship with Christ? What would God say you are doing to help others grow in their relationship with Christ?