“We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction.” 1Th. 1:2-5
- Theme verse for 2023
- “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” v3
- Faith…love…hope: 1 Cor. 13:13; Col. 1:5; 1 Th. 1:3; 5:8
- ‘work’: While Paul insists that salvation is all of God, he also insists that faith is busy.
- Elsewhere he says:
- “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6 NIV11)
- There faith leads to love.
- Here faith leads to work.
- “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” (James 2:18 NIV11)
- Living by faith, living out our hope and living a life of love are work. Not work to earn anything from God, but work nonetheless. Are we afraid of work? Would we be known as a congregation labouring for God?
Question: What helps your faith to be busy? How do you avoid the danger of a works mentality – thinking the works make you more acceptable in God’s eyes?
- ‘labour’ prompted by love Paul means more than small deeds of kindness done without hope of reward. The word kopos denotes laborious toil, unceasing hardship borne for love’s sake. Tyndale
- Toiling to build the church well
- ‘love’ – agape. A love that loves whether the object of that love has merit or not. A love that seeks to give rather than receive. Indeed, gives without thought of return.
- The love Christ showed us: John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10.
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
- (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10 NIV11)
Question: How do you connect with the love that God has for you in such a way that it motivates you to toil for him?
- Endurance – Hypomonē, means not a negative, passive acquiescence, but an active, manly endurance: ‘not the resignation of the passive sufferer, so much as the fortitude of the stout-hearted soldier’
- Hope, in a Christian context, always has an air of certainty about it. It is a confident expectation, not the unfounded optimism we often mean by the word. Tyndale
- ‘hope’: not a grinding endurance, but an inspired one because our eyes are fixed on Jesus.
- We have access to the endurance of Jesus – “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5 NIV11)
Question: What difference does it make that our hope is ‘in Christ’? How does that help you to endure?
- Maybe a year has gone by since their conversion. Already people for hundreds of miles around are talking about them. God is clearly at work – through their work.
- See also the three linked here: (Rom. 5:2–5; 1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:5–6; Col. 1:4–5; Heb. 6:10–12; 10:22–24; 1 Pet. 1:21–22).
- “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:22–24 NIV11)
Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: email@example.com.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)
God bless, Malcolm