Summary: Perhaps the best example on the exercise of the virtues of faith, love, and hope in the New Testament is found in the book of 1 Thessalonians, where the Christians, in the midst of severe trials, afflictions, and persecutions, persevered and put their faith, love, and hope into action by
Faith, Love, And Hope
Perhaps the best example on the exercise of the virtues of faith, love, and hope in the New Testament is found in the book of 1 Thessalonians, where the Christians, in the midst of severe trials, afflictions, and persecutions, persevered and put their faith, love, and hope into action by their works, labor, and endurance. We read this uplifting passage in 1 Thessalonians 1:3.
The Birth of the Church at Thessalonica.
We read in Acts 17:1-10 that Paul and his companions left Philippi and traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia towards Thessalonica.
a) Paul immediately located the synagogue and used their Sabbath gathering as an opportunity for evangelism.
b) He reasoned with the Jews for three weeks converting several of them and some prominent Gentiles. (Acts 17:3-4) the conversion of these Christians marked the birth of the Church in Thessalonica.
But unbelieving Jews soon caused a disturbance, forcing Paul to leave Thessalonica for Berea. The jealous Jews persistently followed him to Berea. The fear of the Jews urged the disciples to send Paul to Athens, where he waited for Timothy and Silas, who remained in Thessalonica.
The Good Report of Timothy
1. Finally. Timothy and Silas arrived and brought a good report about the Christians in Thessalonica, inspiring Paul to write an epistle for their encouragement.
2. Paul remarked that their election was undeniable because the Gospel they received came to them not only in words but with the conviction of the Holy Spirit and with much assurance despite their affliction and persecution, with joy from the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-6)
The Testimony of their Salvation.
The heart of Paul's letter found in verse 3 encouraged them, saying: “he remembered without ceasing, their work produced by faith, their labor prompted by love and their endurance inspired by their hope in Jesus Christ. This exercise of the virtues of Faith, Love, and Hope should encourage everyone.
Let us take a look at each virtue as exemplified by the Thessalonians.
I. OUR WORKS PRODUCED BY FAITH
Our faith in God manifests our righteous works or deeds.
A. OUR WORKING FAITH...
1. In other words, a faith that is alive! - James made it clear in the following verses:
a) I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18)
b) Faith without deeds is useless. (James 2:20)
c) Faith without works is dead. (James 2:26)
We may know all the verses about faith in the Bible, but our faith is useless if we do not apply them to our lives.
2. Our faith rests in the person of Jesus Christ – Col 1:4
3. Our faith and hope are in God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:20-21)
B. BLESSINGS FROM OUR WORKS OF FAITH (BENEFITS)
1. Our works of faith glorify God. (Matthew 5:16)
a) Our good works are a sharp contrast against the good works of men in this world.
In this world, men desire appreciation, praise, and glorification of themselves.
We are urged not to let our left hand know what the right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3) Do not let your left hand know what the right hand is doing. (Matthew 6:3). People who boast about their good deeds have received the reward. (Matthew 6:1-2)
2. Our works of faith give us joy.
a) Joy as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22)
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, and peace. (Galatians 5:22-23)
For when we bear the fruit of kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, and others, we also have the fruit of joy in our hearts.
b) We obtain joy when we stand on our faith in the works that we do. (2 Corinthians 1:24)
3. We receive blessings as stewards of God's grace to do good works. (2 Cor 9:8)
Isn't it a blessing to be entrusted by God to use His grace towards everyone?
a) We are sanctified vessels to do exceptional service for the Lord. (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
We are stewards of God's blessings to help others who are in need.
To use our time in taking care of each other.
4. Our works of faith lead to maturity.
a) Add righteous works to our faith. (1 Peter 1:5-8)
b) Our work to apply God's commands to our lives leads to maturity. (Hebrews 5:14)
Meaning, the more we work with faith, the more we mature in God.
c) We will grow exceedingly great when we help one another. (2 Thess 1:3)
II. OUR LABOR PROMPTED BY LOVE
From the example set by the Thessalonians, OUR LABOR SHOULD BE MOTIVATED BY OUR LOVE OF GOD.
To labor is to work until exhaustion for the Lord.
It involves mental and physical efforts.
A. EXPRESSING LOVE IN OUR LABOR FOR THE LORD.
1. From the example of the Thessalonians, our labor should be motivated by our love of God.