I was reading the Scriptures the other day and ran across this verse… again. It struck me in a new light.
1 Thess. 1:3
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica. This verse is part of the introduction or salutation of the letter. Here, Paul is reminiscing with them about the good works that God has done in and through them as a church.
I think there is something that we can learn today from this verse:
I’ve been in kind of a weird place here recently in my life. I’ve recently stepped away from a leadership position in a church so that I can better hear God’s leading. This time has had its good times and it’s not so good times as well. God has revealed new things about Himself and my purpose as His follower, but I’ve also experienced quite a bit of doubts and frustrations. Through new realizations there have been new questions that have arrived.
My mind is constantly taken back to the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Where Jesus basically said, if you want to know God- seek Him and He will reveal Himself to you. I’ve blogged about this in the past: https://guitarchrsbll.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/the-narrow-gate/.
I feel like God is constantly reminding me to remember Him and remember the hope that I have inside- the faith that will drive me.
So, to today’s verse
This brings be back to the verse I gave at the beginning of this blog. There, Paul is reminded of all the great things that God had done through the Church in Thessalonica, and he wants to remind them of this as well.
He says three individual things about the driving Force that they have inside of them, that I would like to bring to you attention.
1) Christian good work is produced through Faith.
As a follower of Christ, I am called to good works. These good works are not my own, because they do not come from me. They are produced by faith. Faith is what not only affects my life, but it affects the lives of others.
I believe that the Bible teaches us to live, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God and to love others more than ourselves.
If you are anything like me, loving others- including God- more than myself is a hard task. “Myself” is what wants to lead. My inward desires are in complete opposition to the good work that God calls me to. That is why I desperately need faith, because faith is what produces good work.
2) Christian labor (mission) is prompted by Love.
So, faith produces good work, but what makes us even want to do good works? I believe John gives us this answer. In 1 John 4:8, it says, “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Love is what prompts us to do good works, because God is love. John tells us that whoever lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them.
I don’t know about you, but I want to live in God!
Later in 1 John, it tells us that God displayed His love for us in a special way- Jesus on the cross. So, for Christian labor (mission) to happen it must happen because of love. It must happen because Love first met us and showed us what true love is; then we are able to pursue labor (mission).
3) Christian endurance is inspired through Hope in the Lord- Christ.
I get tired from time to time, and it is in those times that I seem to lose sight of the purpose of everything. But it is also in those times that I am inspired to get back up again and continue. The thing that inspires me, and probably many of you, is Hope.
Hope picks us up again, hope endures, and hope is what keeps us going. Let me explain this concept with a story:
When I was a kid, I got made fun of a lot. I felt that I couldn’t amount to much of anything. Now, if you’ve ever studied psychology, you’ll notice that most people around the world feel this way. But you’ll also notice that many of those people actually give up on life- they take their life.
They give up on life, because they’ve lost all hope that things will get better. They’ve decided that things will never change and therefore, they have no reason to go on.
I almost reached this place when I was a kid. I almost lost all hope. I almost gave up.
But it was Hope that pulled me through. It was hope that picked me back up again. It is hope that continues to drive me.
Paul is telling us that it is hope that produces endurance!
Wrapping this all up…
Let me wrap all of this up for you. Paul is teaching us that there is more to this world, than what we can see, taste, and touch. He is telling us that there is something that is so much more important. But the cool thing about all of this is we already know this!
We already know that “some things just can’t be explained.” Love is an example: What causes us to love someone? Is it simply an emotion/feeling or is it something more?
Poets and musicians alike tell us that it is love that holds the world together and love that unifies all living things.
If this is true, then 1 John 4 teaches us that it is God that holds all things together. It is God that unifies.
A closing thought
I want to end by leaving you with one more thing to think on. In the 1 Thess. verse there is one major thing that stands out; and that is that we are not in control, or we are not the source of faith, hope, and love. Faith, hope, and love are given by an outside source and we are but mere recipients of their fruit.
This give me Hope in this time. When my unending questions find no answer, I am still able to continue because of the Hope that is inside me drives me forward. I trust that God has a plan for my future, and for yours, not because I see it coming, but because I have hope!