In I Thessalonians 1:3, Paul states, “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.” The Christians were experiencing great persecution and Paul is wanting to encourage them to continue living their life well. Even now, we can be encouraged and strengthened in our faith if we take to heart and apply the three statements Paul makes about the Thessalonians in this verse. Let’s look at each of them:
1. Work produced by Faith – The good things that were evident in their lives everyday came from a deep trust in God.
2. Labor prompted by Love – The word labor here in the Greek denotes weariness felt from exerting effort. Therefore, we can conclude that the Thessalonian believers were willing to be spent physically, and probably emotionally, because of the love of Christ that was in them.
3. Endurance inspired by Hope – Endurance in this verse denotes perseverance under hardship and suffering. Because of the hope they had in Christ (a confident expectation) they were able to endure the persecution they had been under.
What does all this mean for us? Through encouraging these believers by pointing out their faithfulness, Paul gives us a snapshot of how we should live as Christians in a secular and sometimes hostile society. This is it in a nutshell:
We are called to TRUST (faith) the Father so that our lives produce good things (work). Not the other way around. We don’t produce good works to build our faith, rather good things flow out of a life that is confident in the promises of God. In addition, if we have a deep and abiding LOVE for Jesus, then we will be willing to labor (be spent) for his sake. Like any relationship rooted in love, we don’t think twice about exerting great effort for that person. The same is true of our relationship with Christ. And finally, we are to be content in suffering and even persecution because of the HOPE (confident expectation) we have in Jesus. This is a challenge to change our perspective. Our eyes should be focused on Kingdom things, eternal things, not what our earthly eyes see.
So, go be the faithful ones whose lives look different than the rest of the world. Work, labor, and endure because of the faith, love, and hope you possess.