“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love…”
1 Thessalonians 1:3a
The church at Thessolonica was declared by the Apostle Paul to be a model church. When we read the vivid description of this band of believers we are inspired by their momentum. As Paul reflects on that church he recalls two elements that work hand in hand.
Their Faith. We say ‘faith‘ a lot, and I think we need to remind ourselves of the complete trust and reliance that this means. The faith of the Thessalonian believers was not all mental. It wasn’t just an acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord, it was a demonstrated reality in their lives. It was a faith that produced work. Christians throughout the ages have endured an eternal tug-of-war in the struggle to understand the relationship of faith and works and grace. No matter where you come down in the theo lingo, faith that is not demonstrated is not the kind of faith to which Christ calls us. It is a faith that produces works. When we trust Christ with our lives, they begin to be shaped by Him, and they begin to move toward those who need Him. Momentum is produced. But it is not only faith that produces momentum.
Their Love. Again Paul points to their work … the momentum that is carrying them through the struggles and trials … and he notes that it is prompted by love. Love is the ultimate motive for service. Christianity is not the assembly of do-gooders who are so nice that they just can’t wait to serve. It is the number of Christ followers who are serving and loving at the direction of their Teacher. They reflect the perspective of their Father in loving all of His creatures. And this is so much a part of their character that if this love is absent, their ‘goodness’ is called a lie. 1 John 4:19-201 says, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
When faith and love work together to produce lives that are growing in the character and person of Jesus Christ, momentum is being built. It’s the kind of momentum that will carry us through the darkest of valleys. Paul is going to talk about that in this chapter, but that is yet to come. He is painting a picture for us. It is a portrait of the Thessalonian church using his three favorite colors. Faith, Love, and…
Thanks for reading,