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.
This verse is one of many Biblical responses to what has been called “easy-believism,” that is, the idea that if you agree with a few religious propositions, that’s the end of the story. Throughout his letters Paul deals with the conflict between legalism and libertinism. On the one hand, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast,” (Ephesians 2:8-9) but on the other hand, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” (Ephesians 2:10) and, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2) The Thessalonian believers were demonstrating that genuine faith is not passive, but is active in obeying the One whom we believe. Likewise, love is not just a matter of words. Some kinds of labor can only be inspired by love (and I’m not just making a joke about childbirth). And when it comes to plain, simple endurance, nothing beats the hope that is available only in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus told us plainly that life on this earth isn’t easy, but that in Him, we can be confident. (John 16:33) We are called to be faithful, but need to understand that we can do that by the grace and power of God that He has already provided. All that is required is our act of will, the obedience that comes from love that is inspired by God’s love for us.
This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone else. I too am tempted to say the right words and leave it at that, instead of following through in full obedience. James clearly says that is just deceiving myself. (James 1:22) I’m all too good at that! I too am tempted to think that since God’s grace covers everything, it doesn’t matter what I do. And the devil certainly does his best to get me to give up, to think and feel that being faithful to God is for nothing. That’s one of the biggest lies ever! As a pastor I am constantly working with others to help them walk as citizens of God’s kingdom, but I must not fail to do so myself. Tomorrow I’m speaking on Citizenship, on our rights, privileges, and responsibilities as citizens of the kingdom of God. I need to let the Holy Spirit reveal that even more to me personally, so that I may live it out as an example and encouragement to others.
Father, thank You for all that You are doing. Thank You that Cathy got out of the hospital yesterday and we were able to attend the concert of a Christian musician friend last night. Thank You for the various things You are doing in this church, both those I am aware of and those I’m not. Thank You for continuing to work on me, to make me a better reflection of Your Son. May all that I say and do indeed draw people to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!