As usual Paul starts off by giving thanks for the church in Thessalonica – his prayer life, praying for the churches he cares for, is evidenced in his letters. We have found many times that he is a thankful man. In 1 Corinthians 1 he gave thanks for the very things he was about to challenge them on!
Here Paul gives thanks for their:
- work of faith
- labour of love
- steadfastness of hope
Work of faith
Our faith is not passive. We don’t need to work for God’s favour, we work from God’s favour! It starts with the Lord, whose gospel comes with words and power and then conviction (v.5), that we need forgiving and that it is absolutely true. Becoming a disciple of Jesus means we follow Him, imitate Him – often by imitating those further ahead in the Christian walk, v.5,6. The believers in Thessalonica had done that well and were examples to the whole province around them. Let’s work from God’s favour bringing the kingdom overtly and covertly in our homes, schools and workplaces.
I’m just beginning to study what the kingdom looks like in Isaiah and there are seven signs…
- Deliverance and salvation
- Righteousness and justice
- God’s presence
Let your faith produce those works wherever you are!
Labour of love
What we do for the Lord from his favour isn’t just borne out of faith, it’s filled with his love. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, if we use the spiritual gifts without love, we are just a clanging bell – annoying!
Keep asking the Lord to fill you with His love, so that everything you do stems from love.
Steadfastness of Hope
Our hope is sure and certain – we are saved, chosen by the Lord, v.4, sealed with the Spirit. In this passage filled with the joy of the Spirit, v.6. Christian hope is different to worldly hope – ‘I hope it stays dry today so the washing dries’! Our hope is secure, because it is based on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
That kind of hope fills us with patience and steadfastness, especially in times of affliction, seasons of dryness and tough seasons of life.
Paul praises the church for being imitators of his example. Let’s be the same – faith producing great works, love fuelling labour and hope giving patience – so that we can bring the kingdom wherever we are and whatever we are doing.