The Christian Lifestyle; June 17, 2022

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 think I probably write on this verse every time the readings come to this chapter, but it’s certainly worth it. Faith, hope, and love are justly famous, particularly because of 1 Corinthians 13:13, but actually because of how essential they are for life in Christ. This verse points out that they aren’t just abstract concepts; they actually do things. James wrote a whole letter about how genuine faith indeed works, massively impacting our daily lifestyle. Sadly, there are still people who treat it as abstract, and try to divorce their protestations of “faith” from how they live. God, and actually a lot of people, see right through that. Love gives flavor and meaning to the work that faith does. Again going back to 1 Corinthians 13, Paul expressed very clearly that without love all our activities are essentially meaningless. All of that is well and good, but in practical terms we often don’t see the fruit of our labor immediately, and sometimes not at all in this life. That’s why we must have hope. Faith and hope are inseparable, as Hebrews 11:1 makes clear, but hope sustains us in the long term, when we can’t actually see the end of the tunnel. Hope assures us that Jesus is indeed coming back, as this chapter asserts, so all of the mess we see around us is temporary. The Thessalonians had it rough, physically speaking, but their hope sustained them, just as it has for persecuted believers down through the centuries. We do well to check on our own levels of these three essential qualities, so that we may be effective representatives of our Lord.

Naturally, this applies to me. After 41 years of ministry in Omura I am widely recognized as someone who represents faith in Christ, and I need that to be an accurate, inviting picture. As the Lord brought out in a conversation I had with a current non-believer, the Japanese generally treat faith as a non-essential. They have a proverb (that actually not many of them know) that even a sardine’s head can be an object of worship, which shows how casual they are about it all. Over 30 years ago a fellow teacher in the high school where I was teaching at the time told me he had used me as an illustration in class. I was naturally curious, so I asked how. He said that he was trying to get the students to understand the difference in attitude toward religion in different countries, so he told them that if you pointed a gun at a Japanese and told them to change their religion, they’d just ask to which one. However, if you pointed a gun at me and said the same thing, I’d just spread our my hands and say, “Shoot.” I literally had tears of joy at having been seen that way, when I am very aware of my own frailty, in faith and everything else. I want this description of the Thessalonians to apply to me, and by God’s grace and mercy I believe it does.

Father, thank You indeed for Your grace and mercy toward me. Help me respond more and more accurately, more and more fully, to You, for all of Your purposes for me to be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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