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There was once a Scotsman who rowed people across a river. On one oar he had carved the word 'faith' and on the other oar he had carved the word 'works'. One day as he was rowing, one of the passengers noticed the carvings and asked him about them. The Scotsman did not reply but pulled in the oar marked 'works' and started to row with only one oar. The boat went round in circles. He then pulled in the oar marked 'faith' and started to row only with the 'works' oar. The boat again went round in circles, but this time in the opposite direction. He then rowed with both oars and reached the other bank safely.

Before his passenger got off the boat he said, 'A Christian must row his life using both oars, faith and works. Only then will he reach heaven's shore.'

True faith influences the heart and life so that we obey God and serve others. The Thessalonians were acting out their faith in works of compassion and mercy. Here Paul is probably referring to their fearless preaching of the gospel in the midst of persecution.

(Source: Shenton, T. (2006). Opening up 1 Thessalonians (15--16). Leominster: Day One Publications.)

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