One of my best friends and frequent companions is the Apostle Paul. No, I didn’t actually know him personally, but through his writings he’s become a trusted comrade. I like hanging out with him because I want to be more like him. Paul was not afraid to confront sin. He certainly did not shy away from conflict.
At the same time, though, he was extremely loving and compassionate. As I have been reading through his first letter to the believers at Thessalonica, I am amazed at the way his deep caring comes through.
In describing his previous visit he likens his actions to a “nursing mother taking care of her own children” (2:7). He goes on to refer to the recipients of the letter as “our glory and joy” (2:20). Just a few verses later, he mentions his intense longing to see them and twice says that he “could bear it no longer” (3:1, 5). And just a bit further on, Paul prays for the readers that they “may abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you” (3:12).
I don’t know many people, especially guys, who talk like that. Outside of close family, we are generally much more guarded with our words and our emotions. And maybe that’s the point. To Paul, these people were family. Not worldly blood-relatives, but closely related nonetheless, through the blood of Christ.
I think his words—and his heart—are good examples for all of us.