We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's Good News but our own lives, too. 1 Thessalonians 2:8
My friends and family members are some of the people I trust the most. I value their opinions, and I listen when they offer advice about a particular situation. Why do I trust them? I trust them because we have lived a lot of life together. I know them, and they have proven themselves to be trustworthy. I also know that they care about me. This is probably the case with you, too. We trust and listen to those who have proven themselves trustworthy as we have lived life with them. This understanding is important to consider when sharing our faith with those who do not know Christ.
The apostle Paul understood that if he was going to share his faith with others, he would also have to spend a lot of time living life with them. In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul reflects on how he and his two missionary companions ministered to the people of Thessalonica. When they arrived in Thessalonica, they did not try to use force, trickery, or flattery to bring the people of Thessalonica to Christ. Instead, in one of Paul's most beautiful statements, he says in verse eight, "We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's Good News but our own lives, too." In this verse, Paul told the people of Thessalonica that because of their love for them, he and his missionary companions not only shared their faith with them but also shared their lives. This means they spent time together. They probably ate meals with the people of Thessalonica. I'm sure they had many, many conversations with them. They lived their lives alongside the people of Thessalonica. As a result of their ministry, a number of these Thessalonians came to know Christ. Paul and his missionary companions shared life with the Thessalonians and earned their trust as they shared the good news of Christ.
As we share our faith with those who do not know Christ, Paul set a great example for us to follow. You see, when we seek to bring others to Christ, our challenge in these verses is to not only share the good news of Jesus with them but also to share our lives. When we share meals with them, have numerous conversations with them, share our joys and our concerns with them and listen to their joys and concerns as well, we will earn their trust as we share our faith with them. Who are the people in your life who do not know Christ? Will you share not only the good news of Christ with them but your life as well?
Take a look at your list of five people you know who do not have a relationship with Christ. Pick one person on your list and invite them to share a meal with you this week. This can be a meal at your home or a meal at your favorite restaurant. As you eat a meal with them, begin sharing life with them. Get to know them and the situations they are facing right now and tell them about your life as well. In building a stronger relationship and sharing your life with them, you will earn their trust as you share the good news about Jesus with them.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (NLT)
You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.