ones who thought themselves insignificant, ineffectual and useless as believers Paul is thankful for them all. He has no desire to exclude any of them. He expresses his thanks in prayer. Note he says constantly – I do not think he meant that was all he ever did or prayed about but I believe Paul had a consistent and persistent habit of praying for the churches of his day. I think it is a good habit to cultivate – when someone comes into our minds it is easy just to let them drift out again but it takes only a moment to lift them to God in prayer.

Then Paul goes on to mention the cardinal virtues of the Christian faith – namely faith, love and hope. Note what he says about each of these:
Work produced by faith – work is the end product of faith. James says that faith without works is dead. We all know that we are not saved by works but in Ephesians 2 verses 8-9 Paul states that we are saved to do good works. Work is the essential fruit of the believing life. You see were faith is genuine it works. Paul is impressed by their active Christian lives. The worship is over the service begins – is not a bad thing to have on the back of your church notice board. You see lazy and careless Christians actually demonstrate a lack of real living faith.

Labour prompted by love - it is easy to say you love but quite another to love. Love does not stop at the ordinary effort – on the contrary it goes the extra mile and more. Because these people love God in Christ Jesus they are prompted to labour. What Paul is actually speaking about here is self-sacrifice. Self-sacrifice of their time, their talents and their resources. Let me ask you a question is your love for God seen in labour, in self-sacrifice? When I look around church this morning I see many of you and I know the sacrifices you make in your daily lives for the sake of the gospel. I know the sacrifice of time, talent and resources that you give to HT. But can I ask us all do we really make sacrifices for the gospel. How about the fact that we need another Sunday School helper, we need a team of people to allow the Sunday School teachers to hear a sermon now and then. We need a home for the second housegroup to meet in. we will all be challenged in the year ahead to make financial sacrifices to build a bigger building. Labour prompted by love.

Endurance inspired by hope – not just a vague hope but hope in the second coming of Christ Jesus. When times are hard these believers kept on hoping. They did not wallow in self-pity, they did not give up when the going got tough – why? Because their hope was not in an easy comfortable life, their hope was in the risen conquering Son of God. Theirs was no earthly hope but a heavenly hope.

You see Paul expected that faith would work, that love would labour and that hope would endure. They were, and are, signs of a Christian life. You see faith without love has no integrity, faith without hope well it loses direction and love