The Gentleness of a Child
Tuesday - November 30th
Scripture to Read Today: 1 Thessalonians 2:4-7
Instead, we were like young children among you.
1 Thessalonians 2:7
Soon after they came to Jesus as Savior, the young believers in the first-century church at Thessolanica questioned the authority and authenticity of the Apostle Paul. Non-believing critics in the city had undermined Paul's standing with the fledgling church. Their criticism gained some ground among the believers.
In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, he made it clear that his ultimate motivation was to please God, not other people. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7, Paul mentions and denies any motives of greed, flattery, or pride on his part. He boldly says, "We are not trying to please people but God" (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
Paul's choice of words and the tone they convey in this passage might leave one with the impression that he then acted like a bull in a China shop. You might think he mistreated others because he couldn’t care less about how they felt. Paul anticipates this conclusion and deflates it by saying, "Instead, we were like young children among you" (1 Thessalonians 2:7). The apostle's attempt to please God included a need to treat others with care and kindness.
Paul's disregard for pleasing others and desire to please God - and God alone - did not mean he would act unkindly or cruelly. On the contrary, to please God, Paul also had to treat others the way God wanted him to treat them. He was to speak the truth in love. He was to extend grace, mercy, and compassion. Paul embraced Christ's call to treat others as we would want them to treat us.
After clearly delineating his posture of pleasing God, not people, the apostle described how he acted among and toward the Thessalonian believers. He behaved with the innocence and gentleness of a child - not a bully or a bull in a china shop. As we interact with others and attempt to please only God, we need the same gentleness Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 2:7. Likewise, when interacting with folks who disagree with us politically, theologically, or personally, we need to ensure our words, attitudes, and actions reflect Christ.
How we interact with others while we seek to please God is as important as what we say and do. Let's follow Paul's example of treating other people with the same gentleness as a little child. Let's not grieve God as we try to please God.
How you treat others as you seek to please God matters to God - and it should matter to you too!