Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8 (NKJV)
While the world love is never actually used in these verses, we are given a very good picture of what it means to love others as Christ as loved us. As Paul ministered in Thessalonica, he demonstrated the love of Christ. I find Paul’s description of his attitude in ministry to be very interesting. I have my own image of Paul and his ministry style. In Paul, you have a strong theological mind mixed with an unyielding conviction about Christ, the Gospel and the importance of holy living and sound doctrine. In my mind, these things do not add up to someone who compares his ministry to that of a mother nursing her child.
Most of the commentaries I read on this passage used this verse to describe Paul’s gentleness toward those he ministered. While that seems to be an accurate picture, I don’t think it’s the complete picture. Think about the sacrifices that a nursing mother has to make for her children. She basically changes her life to meet the needs of the baby. She has to take the initiative and do whatever is necessary to see that the child’s needs are properly met. Ultimately, she has to make great sacrifices to care for her child until the child is old enough to care for itself. She willingly does this because she loves her child.
That is the picture that Paul is painting of his ministry style among the Thessalonian believers. In doing this, Paul certainly demonstrates the love of Christ. By ministering among the Thessalonians in this fashion, Paul followed Jesus’ example and set an example that we also are to follow.
Paul’s love for them motivated him to give them his very life and not just the Gospel. In this verse, he describes his love for them as “affectionate longing.” This is one word in the Greek that carries with it having an intense desire and longing for someone. This word, “…has been found on a fourth-century A.D. gravestone in which a mother and father express love for their deceased child; ‘the sorrowful father and mourning mother…greatly desiring their son.’” This is a picture of such a strong love for them that He would be willing to lay down his life for them.
There is a love for people that motivates us to go to others with the soul-saving, life-changing messages of the Gospel. This is true even if sharing the Gospel doesn’t require any sort of sacrifice on our part. We demonstrate concern for others when we explain to them eternally destructive consequences of sin and point them to the cross of Christ as their only hope for escaping those consequences. Yet many times this concern isn’t communicated clearly, if all we are willing to give them is the Gospel. This is why Paul said he gave them his life as well as the Gospel.
The old cliché says that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I tend to think that is mostly correct. I also tend to believe this is why door-to-door evangelism isn’t terribly effective in our day. I always want to be careful here, because I’m not saying door-to-door evangelism is wrong or anything like that. I just don’t think it’s terribly effective.
I tend to think that most people view door-to-door evangelism by people they don’t know as an interruption in their evening or a visit by the local cult leader. Most of those who view door-to-door evangelism as an interruption in their evening do so because they don’t understand that you are concerned about their spiritual well being and eternal destiny. In their minds, you are either trying to use them to earn your eternal salvation, earn yourself some heavenly bonus points or force your religion on them. They view you this way because they don’t know you. They will continue to view you this way, until they know you and you have proved this isn’t true. This is why we must demonstrate the love of Christ by being willing to give them our lives as well as the Gospel.
 G.K. Beal The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – 1 & 2 Thessalonians, pg 73