2:1-2 When Paul encourages the Thessalonians to stand firm in the midst of persecution, he does so as one familiar with trials. Paul suffered and was treated outrageously in Philippi—he was beaten and wrongly imprisoned; nevertheless, he still felt emboldened by . . . God to speak the gospel (2:2). Paul knows that the authentic Christian life is going to have tough times. He knows what it feels like to want to quit. But he also knows that an authentic minister never throws in the towel.
2:7-12 As further proof of Paul’s pure motives, he reminds the Thessalonians of his relationship with them. He was gentle among [them], as a nurse nurtures her own children (2:7), or, as he says later, like a father with his own children (2:11). Caring relationships—not merely sermons—were the key to his ministry. And that principle applies to everyone in the church, not just to the pastor. Lives touching lives is what makes a church. Individuals can’t care for hundreds or thousands of people, but they can care for each other.
What does this sort of care look like? Paul shows us. We preach God’s gospel to each other (2:9). We encourage and comfort each other by sharing burdens (2:12). Most of all, we live worthy of God. Only by walking with him will we have life to give to others.