A Costly but Effective Love
By Jennifer Slattery
"Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8
It’s easy to say we love someone but do our actions support our words? When our interactions become difficult or inconvenient, or even dangerous, does our love hold fast?
I often vacillate between two types of love—the transient, shallow emotion our culture displays and the action, known as agape in the Greek, said to define God and His children. The fact that the former denotes a feeling while the latter a verb reveals the stark contrast between the two.
Our culture says: I’ll love you if you love me back. Or, I’ll show kindness so long as, eventually, you react as I expect. Or perhaps, I’ll share God’s truth with you when I have time and there’s nothing worth watching on television.
The love Paul showed the Thessalonian believers went much deeper and came at a much higher cost. Not only did he labor “day and night” (2 Thes 1:9) so as not to burden them, but he routinely risked his life for them and the sake of Christ. The church in Thessalonica knew this. They’d seen the riots jealous Jews and troublemakers had started in their streets. They watched the mob drag prominent believers before the city council, and they’d experienced the persecution that soon followed. (Acts 17:5-9).
They knew the price Paul paid so that they could find freedom, and they responded by listening and accepting his words for what they were—the very truth of God.
It’s easy to clog our neighbors’ mailboxes with gospel tracts or clutter their Facebook feeds with verses. But our greatest impact will come from love, the type that says, “My desire for your spiritual freedom is so intense, I’m willing to invest myself personally, no matter how inconvenient and for as long as it takes.”
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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Originally published Saturday, 31 August 2019.