Summary: Christians are led to rejoice in knowing that even their faith is a gift from God.
O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good His mercy endures forever! How many times have you uttered those words? If you’re like me you find yourself speaking those phrases right around meal time. If you’re also like me you’ve probably caught yourself ripping through those words that are often used as the common table prayer so that you can get to the food that is sitting before you. I’m embarrassed to say that those words may have at times become somewhat routine to the point that I’m not even thinking about what they mean. I just take it for granted that every time I sit down for a meal I’ll say those words not thinking about their significance. The significance of what it means to give thanks to God for all that I have - including the food that I eat!
In our text for this morning the Apostle Paul is giving thanks to God - not for food, but for faith. He is thanking God for creating faith in the hearts of the believers in the city of Thessalonica. As we look at God’s Word that was recorded by the Apostle Paul this morning we too are reminded to:
Give Thanks to God For Our Faith
I. The Faith that He has created in us
II. The Faith that he strengthens in us
The Apostle Paul gives thanks to God for the faith that He created in the hearts of the believers at Thessalonica. He gives God thanks for connecting those Thessalonians to Himself. Why is that important? Because these Thessalonians weren’t always connected to God. Before Paul came to share the good news of a Savior with them they weren’t connected with God. In fact they were God’s bitter enemies. Just like all other people that have been born - they too were born in sin. They loved to sin. They did nothing but sin. This sin separated them from God.
But Paul rejoices that God has connected them to Himself. How? Through the work of Jesus. Jesus was unlike any other human being. He was born without sin because he was conceived by the Holy Ghost. He was and is true God and true man in one person. This Godman, Jesus, accomplished what the Thessalonians couldn’t do on their own. He kept all of God’s commands. He never sinned. He also went to the cross carrying all people’s sins on his shoulders. He didn’t deserve to die - but he did. He died so that these Thessalonians could be forgiven, so that they could be connected with God.
Why did God the Father go to all the trouble of formulating this plan of salvation? Why did Jesus go through the bitter pain and agony of suffering and dying on the cross? Why? Certainly not because these Thessalonians did anything to make God want to go through all this trouble. Not because these Thessalonians had anything to offer God in return. God the Father and His Son Jesus did all of this out of grace, undeserved love.
Because God the Father created faith in the hearts of these Thessalonians they believed this message of a Savior. As a result they had lasting peace. They had the peace of forgiveness. No longer did they have to worry about living up to a perfect standard. No longer did they have to fret about the impending day of judgment. No longer did they have to carry the tremendous burden of guilt that sin brings with it. They had peace with God. This is a peace that is everlasting because of what Jesus has done.
That faith - that trust that lived in their hearts spurred them on to deeds of service. Paul thanks God that these Thessalonians produced labor that is prompted by love. Whether they looked for ways to help out in their community, or looking for ways to help others in times of distress, or sharing the message of a Savior with someone who didn’t know him yet, the faith that lived in the Thessalonians’ hearts produced a labor of love.
Their faith also prompted them to work produced by faith. That work might have been faithfully carrying out their duties for their employer, or working faithfully around the home, or serving in different capacities in their congregation. Paul gives thanks that their work was produced by faith. Their work was evidence of the faith that lived in their hearts. They gave their lives in service to God to give him thanks and praise.
Paul also calls attention to their endurance that was inspired by their hope in Christ. They let the light of their faith shine. They let their lights shine in all situations. They had endurance to stand up to all of life’s twists and turns with confidence. Confident that come what may they had a Savior who had forgiven them. They had a Savior who was coming to take them to be with himself.