“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” - 1 Thessalonians 1: 2-3
Loved by God, chosen by God, recipients of God’s grace, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. These are just some of the words used to describe the wonder and beauty of a life that encounters the transforming work of Jesus. As Paul writes to the believers in Thessalonica, he gives thanks to God for them and remembers three key aspects of their life. As disciples of Christ, these three marks should be defining our lives.
Work of Faith
Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary in doing good. Our work, doing good and living out being God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:9) is a work of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, if our work is not of faith, it is not pleasing to God. This means we must believe God, trust God, and seek God in our Christian work. We need to be asking God questions, praying for His direction, and following Him where He leads.
This means we follow Jesus where He is leading. We work hard, we give God the effort but we take steps of faith that put our lives, our families, and our ministries in God’s hands. We don’t determine the outcome; God does. The Lord provides opportunities day in and day out for us to trust Him. Remember that it is often those small steps of faith that lead to the larger steps which lead to a life that is characterized as a life of faith.
Labor of Love
When I was younger I worked in the concrete industry for awhile putting in many 60 hour weeks. By Friday night I was ready to be done laboring and all I wanted to do was rest. The labor was back-breaking and was about getting a job done. Our labor in Christ can be weary but it is about loving people. The concrete work was done at the job site and we could leave. The labor of love is a never ending labor because people are all around us. We desire to rest from this labor but we must endure. We should never stop loving people. It is the labor we have been called to.
Love for one another should be a defining mark of a maturing disciple. As disciples we must develop a care for people. Notice their body language; look into their eyes and see something deeper. Ask them how they are and actually mean it. Love is work, hard work! Laziness and selfishness will fight against love at every angle. We must remember it is a labor and is our calling as disciples of Jesus.
Steadfastness of Hope
A secure future allows us to have hope even when it seems hopeless. When the salvation of the Lord is ever before us it helps us to endure through the storm. Even when we can’t see through the rain we believe and know by faith that there is hope on the other side. This steadfastness allows us not to be tossed to and fro, to stand strong in the Lord in the midst of chaos and confusion and to not allow circumstances and hurt to derail our pursuit of God.
Disciples of Jesus should be some of the most hope-filled people in this world. Our cry should be “to live is Christ, to die is gain!” The more we know the hope to which we have been called, the more we believe that eternity with Jesus is better than this world, the more steadfast we will be. Fear will drive us if we lose hope, but imagine if disciples of Jesus Christ held onto hope and continued forward with a fearless devotion to their God and Savior. Let us be those disciples who live by faith, labor in love, and hold fast to their hope!