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.
1 Thessalonians 1:3
Read the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians and you get a real sense that Paul considers the church in Thessalonica to be nearly a model congregation. In the verse of scripture above he mentions three things that confirm that they are true followers of Christ.
First he speaks of their work produced by faith. Faith always expresses itself in obedience to that which one believes. Our decisions, whether we realize it or not are always based on what we believe deep down, not just on what we say we believe. These Thessalonian’s actions proved to Paul, and to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia for that matter, that their faith was solely in God.
When Paul goes on to say that they labored “prompted by love”, it seems to me that the Thessalonians listened to that still small voice that occasionally tells us to do things we really don’t feel like doing. You know what I’m talking about, the voice that says, “Jenny isn’t feeling well maybe I should watch her kids this afternoon?” or “Mark and Irene are really struggling this month maybe we should ask if they could use some help with the bills?” Sound familiar? It’s the voice that is so easy to argue with and sometimes even easier to ignore. The Thessalonians listened to the prompting and labored out of love. Sometimes their labor was out of love for others; more often than not it was simply their love for Jesus that encouraged their action.
Finally we read that they “endured” inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know exactly what it is that they were enduring, we can only guess. They may have endured many of the same trials and sufferings we who are believers today endure. Friends and family members deserting us because of our beliefs, or maybe the loss of a loved one. Some may have lost jobs or income because of their new faith. The only thing we know for sure is that it was their firm confidence in Jesus and his promised return that gave them the strength to endure the trials or persecution, as it also must be with us.
Yes, Paul was very thankful for them. Their lives proved the awesome power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Read the chapter again and then as Warren Wiersbe points out in his Bible Commentary, ask yourself these three questions:
- Are others thankful for me?
- Is God’s power seen in my life?
- Do I make it easier for others to talk about Jesus?