We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well because you had become so dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV).
Can you really share the gospel of Jesus Christ without sharing yourself? If that kind of question makes you uncomfortable, I’ll ask it a different way. If you don’t really share yourself, can you ever really love?
When Paul and his friends stayed with the Thessalonians, they became true friends. They talked; they listened; they helped out in things that needed to be done; they laughed and cried; they debated and argued; they forgave; they worked to earn their keep. In doing so, they did what you and I would do in a similar situation: they shared themselves. They shared themselves in genuinely caring ways, looking out for their new friends and sharing their own love like trusting children would. Not so long before those new friends had been strangers, then they weren’t. The difference was in sharing Christ’s love.
Is there any other way to really share your love?
We’re so fond of talking about how we love, demonstrating we’re in love, falling in love, being in love, that we miss the point of love: love is Christ. Real love is a gift of and a quality of and the essence of the Creator of all things. He loves us enough to breathe life into us, provide for us, abide with us, chastise yet forgive us, hold our hands as we do the dumbest things, and be with us in the toughest times. If we really, truly do love someone, we love with the devotion of Jesus, sharing Him in that love.
We each know few people who are going through divorce. Just today I learned of a friend who lost their job, no notice. There are people who are struggling through dying, through letting go of hurt, through watching kids grow up, go away, and become distant. There are desperately lonely people all around us, desperate for someone to share with them. In a world where there is so much hurt, how can we not love, not share ourselves?
Paul and his companions didn’t stay in Thessalonica. They moved on; they kept going where the gospel message led them. They loved their new friends for a short while, then they moved on and made new friends, shared their lives again, with new people. It’s how they shared the gospel that Christ Himself had entrusted to Paul. Two millenia later, we are to do the same thing. You can’t love without sharing yourself, without letting down your guard. You can’t share the gospel unless you do the same. Is that so tough?
For further reading: Romans 1:1, 2 Corinthians 12:15, 1 John 3:16, 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
Lord, teach me more to share You by loving other people.