Summary: Paul’s thanksgiving of the kingdom life and witness of the Thessalonians is a reminder that our calling is to be worthy of imitation, and people who model, what it means to strong and ready to stand out in this world.

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1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

Are We Worth Imitating?

The broad perspective we are working with as we make our way through 1 Thessalonians is to keep answering the question

How can we be strong and ready to stand out in a world that is pressuring us to just fit in?

Let’s keep that question in mind as we read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

Paul clearly has a high regard for the ministry impact and example of the church of the Thessalonians. The thanksgiving is based on a litany of memories.

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.

1 Thessalonians 1:3

Did you pick-up the triad?

Faith … Love … Hope.

You will often find Paul using all these words in the same verse or verses.

Here Paul uses them to describe the Christians life of the Thessalonians.

work produced by faith

Always in his letters Paul is very cautious. He never wants people to think that somehow the good work we do – even the good religious and Christian work we do – is able to make us saved, or more saved, or more worthy.

But Paul is also very clear – when you have faith it produces a work.

There are spiritual outcomes. There are actions that can be seen. There is behaviour which is present. Faith is visual and has an impact.

By their fruit you will know them (Matthew 7:16).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Paul remembers their work produced by faith – and he is thankful.

labour prompted by love

In the New Testament there is a distinction between work and labour.

I can work, and actually not be that uncomfortable.

When my work causes me to be sore, or have suffered, or have been through a lot of pain, then I have laboured.

A work is our Christian actions in response to the grace of Jesus.

Labour is also work, but labour has the added element of discomfort or hardship.

The reason for pushing to such hardship is due to the launching point.

It is labour which has been produced by love.

Agape Love.

The Jesus-who-gave-His-life-as-a-sacrifice-for-our-sin love.

God-so-loved-the-world love.

The Thessalonians labour because of the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice.

endurance inspired by hope

Endurance is the action of moving forward no matter what the obstacles, or pressure to stop, or the persecution which results. Endurance takes stick-ability, pushing beyond, dong all that is necessary and more. Spiritual endurance results as we follow Jesus who “for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame (Hebrews 12:2)”.

Later in the letter Paul will say “When we were with you, we kept telling you that we – “we” here being the missionaries as well as the new converts – would be persecuted”. (1 Thessalonians 3:3)

In the most difficult of spiritual circumstances – that being persecution – the Thessalonians were still inspired by the hope that Christ gave. Knowing that nothing will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord – not even persecution that could lead to death.

Paul remembers this and is thankful.

As Paul remembers we are given a full picture of the reason the Thessalonians are strong and ready.

Lots of people do works.

Generously giving of time, resources, skills.

It is even possible to take a person from the kingdom community, and a not-yet-believer and compare the works of the two people – and actually the comparison would be the same. You all know the sort of people I am talking about. They are the ones about whom we say, “They would be great Christians”.

Lots of people do labour.

The divers who last year saved those boys out of the cave in Thailand.

I don’t know what all of their spiritual lives are like but most Thai people are Buddhist.

No one would question that the rescue was a labour with hardship and the discomfort.

Lots of people have endurance.

On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston was canyoneering alone when a rock come down and trapped his arm so he couldn’t move. He was stuck for five days

127 hours

To get out he cut off his own arm.

Moving forward no matter what the obstacle – that is endurance.

Works. Labour. Endurance. They are commendable. Indeed they will make you stand out.

But they are not the full picture.

Standing out in this world is not merely about matching the achievements of the world.

Spiritual significant works only result when there is faith.

Spiritual significant labour only results when motivated by agape-love.

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