2016-05-01 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Verses Two and Three
Paul goes on to open on a positive note. First, he speaks of the thanks he sends up to God for them. He reassures the believers that they are a constant object of his prayers. These believers were a major part of Paul's life, and therefore a major factor in his prayers.
Now Paul identifies three areas that are the basis for his thanksgiving. They are: 1.) Work of faith, 2.) Labor of love, and 3.) Patience of hope. It is these attributes that are the demonstration of the reality of their faith, the quality of their walk. These believers were carrying out actions for God. They worked and labored. It was never the intent of God that Christianity become a “spectator sport”.
The work is the product of the quality of their belief. Work is the product of faith. We must demonstrate our faith by our works.
“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
Laboring through love means that we go further than required, or as Robert Thomas puts it,
“Coupled with the product of faith, therefore, is the wearisome toil by which love expends itself. So great is its concern for the object that love does not stop with ordinary effort, but goes the second mile and even beyond for the sake of another.” 1
Think about it for a moment. Haven't there been times that you went well “above and beyond the call of duty” for a loved one, spouse, etc.? From a Biblical perspective, there is no such thing as going “above and beyond the call of duty." Well, Paul is praising these believers for treating one another this way - loving and laboring for each other.
Finally, Paul is grateful for their endurance. We are called to be patient in all things. Our hope is in Christ, and therefore we are not to be “under the circumstances.”
“… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
This was the behavior of this church. Paul, then, is thankful for the fact that they were demonstrating the basic Christian attributes - faith, love and hope. These attributes are grounded in “our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only because they were believers in Christ, that they were able to practice these qualities. Paul notes that these positive qualities were carried out in the presence of God. As believers, all that we do is before God, and how much better to walk in a way pleasing to Him as believers, versus walking in a way that seems no different than the walk of the world around us.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.