Thoughts from The Bible

The work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope
The beginning of the church in Thessalonica is recorded by Luke in Acts 17:1-10… On his second missionary journey, Paul and his companions had just left Philippi, and traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they arrived at Thessalonica. Paul immediately located the synagogue and used the Jewish Sabbath gathering as an opportunity for evangelism. For three weeks he reasoned with the Jews, converting some, as well as a number of prominent Gentiles. As was often the case, unbelieving Jews soon caused a disturbance, forcing Paul to leave.

As was typical of his great passion for saints everywhere, leaving did not mean that Paul forgot the saints. What was the church in Thessalonica like? Did the young church survive? Had persecution discouraged the new converts? These no doubt were some of the concerns that prompted Paul to send Timothy back to Thessalonica “to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: that no man should be moved by these afflictions…” (1 Thess. 3:2-3)

Timothy brought back news that was certainly encouraging, and in Paul’s opening remarks in this epistle we learn about “their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope” (1 Thess. 1:2-3). It’s noteworthy that they had a working faith: In other words, a faith that was alive and produced the correct response of action! Their faith was centered in the person of Jesus Christ. It was prompted by love, and supported by great hope.

Paul wrote similar words to the church at Colossae: Colossians 1:3-5 ( KJV ) “3We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;”

In his second letter to the brethren in Thessalonica, Paul was greatly encouraged that they were not only continuing in these great attributes, but growing in them. In this second letter to them, Paul remarked about how their faith continued to grow exceedingly – 2 Thessalonians 1:3 ( KJV ) “ 3We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.”

This causes me to wonder about our faith? Is our faith a living faith, a faith that manifests itself by obedience to the word of God? Or are we like some who believe but do not obey Jesus? This was the case with some of the Jewish rulers who believed in Jesus – John 12:42-43 ( KJV ) “42Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Friends, our faith must be strongly centered in Jesus Christ. We must note that this faith will be tested! We need a faith that is both produced by the word of God (Romans 10:17), and that is strengthened by the overwhelming evidences contained in the word of God. We need a faith that has generated a labor of love and the patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). If our faith is like that of the Thessalonians, then it too will equip us to face severe persecution without losing hold of our confidence in the Lord.

If our faith is like that of the Thessalonians, then it too will “grow exceedingly,” and be evidenced by our faithful service to the Lord! It’s noteworthy that their growth was even in a time of persecution. Surely we could learn a great deal about how to face “these times” in which we live. The key to enduring them is summed up by Paul as continuing in our work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope!

The author can be reached for comments at 256.574.2489.

-Terry Broome

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