1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Every genuine minister of God wants his flock to receive the Word of God for what it is, as it talks about in verse 13, but these verses describe what is necessary for that to happen. We see lots of examples of Paul doing exactly this throughout his letters. I think one reason God gave him the gift of singleness was so that he wouldn’t have biological children to distract him from his spiritual children. It’s not at all that biological fathers can’t be good spiritual fathers. Actually, raising biological children can teach you a lot about raising spiritual children, and actually, vice versa. However, Paul was a special case in that regard. Far too many church leaders don’t act like good fathers, and instead expect those under them to serve them in many different ways. Actually, far too many biological fathers do the same with their children. We need to consider what good parenting really looks like, and practice that with our children of any sort. As has been said, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A good father will pour his life into his children, just as Father God poured Himself out through His Son Jesus, so that we might be saved.
Every time I run into a passage like this in the Bible I am challenged, because I know full well I haven’t been a perfect father either to my biological children or to my spiritual children. Now that my biological children are adults, and parents themselves, my relationship with them is even more similar to my relationship with church members, because I am not in the position of commanding much of anything. I know that God speaks His Word through me and I earnestly desire that it be received for what it is, and it sometimes breaks my heart when that doesn’t happen. I see a great deal of unnecessary suffering in my children because of their failing to receive and apply the Word of God for what it is. One of the hardest things I have had to learn is releasing my children into God’s hands. Even if I fulfill this passage perfectly, their response is their responsibility. I am never to stop praying for them, doing spiritual warfare on their behalf, but it’s up to them to follow through.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the wisdom and guidance You’ve given me recently in dealing with some of my spiritual children. I need more of that! It’s hard to wait for Your timing, in their lives as well as mine. I pray that all of us would indeed respond fully to Your invitation into Your kingdom and glory, just as this passage says. Thank You. Praise God!