1 Thessalonians 1:3 We continually 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.
I’m sure I’ve written on this every time this verse has come up in our daily readings, because it is so striking and meaningful. It expresses the practical reality of Christian living in a way that allows us to evaluate our own lives, as well as appreciate the lives of others. In the first place, it settles the argument between faith and works, which both Paul (Ephesians 2:8-10 and the whole letter to the Galatians) and James (James 2:14-26) dealt with. Simply put, faith works. If you believe God and His Word, you are going to work for Him and with Him. That’s what James was stressing. However, some people try to substitute work for faith. That’s what Galatians deals with and it is what Martin Luther reacted so strongly against that he called James a “book of straw,” meaning, worthless. Here Paul goes a step beyond that to the point of labor, meaning really putting your sweat into it. We don’t do that without some sort of compulsion, but love is the best compulsion, (2 Corinthians 5:14) Jesus made it very clear that genuine love for Him will produce obedience to Him, (John 14:15) and love for our neighbor will cause us to go all-out in service to them. (Matthew 22:39) The third thing Paul mentions here is patient endurance. That’s something we could all use more of! We aren’t going to endure hardship very well without hope of something better on the other side. As the hymn, The Solid Rock, says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” We don’t know the details of heaven, much less Jesus’ return to earth as King, but if our hope is anchored in Him, we can wait patiently for those things to be revealed in His time. As Jesus said so famously, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This verse is as much a challenge to me as it is to anyone else. I too need to keep check on my faith, love, and hope. Putting it that way, I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 13:13! When I look at my own life, I regularly feel I come up short, inadequate in all three of those areas. I need to remember that only God is perfect, and welcome His working in me to move me in that direction. I am never to be satisfied with where I am, but at the same time I am not to be picking at myself, taking on the role of satan, which means, “accuser.” The devil does quite enough of that, without my helping him out! I am certainly not to resist when the Holy Spirit prompts me to repent of specific things, but I am never to accept blanket condemnation of any kind. Likewise, I am never to deliver blanket condemnation! I am to admonish and encourage, not put down and condemn.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for all You did yesterday, answering my prayers about speaking to the nurses and to the “movers and shakers.” I pray that my words and actions would consistently inspire others to faith, love, and hope, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!