By Dennis C Abernathy
In this salutation and greeting to the Thessalonians Paul makes mention of the fact that they were constantly in his prayers. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (v. 2).
Paul was a believer in prayer. He believed in praying for his brethren, and sought their prayers in his behalf as well (1 Thess. 5:25). Brethren we ought to imitate Paul more in this regard. Do we pray for our brethren as we should? Perhaps if we prayed more for our brethren, we would be motivated to do more! Prayer motivates. For example: The congregation, within driving distance of us, is having a gospel meeting. We pray for them to have a good and successful meeting – this should help motivate us to go and encourage them, should it not? We pray for preachers in other places (some in very difficult circumstances); consequently, this should help us to resolve to do something (help with their wages, send a word of encouragement, etc.). Let us pray for our brethren, because we love them, and because we are thankful for them!
In verse three, Paul mentions three things, which we wish to call to your attention. These three things stood out in the mind of Paul because he remembered them. It would be good if all of us could be remembered in the three things mentioned in this passage.
1. Your Work of Faith: Their faith led them to action it was not barren! “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (Jas. 2:20). “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas 2:26). They did not have a dead faith, but an active, working faith, bringing their wills into obedience to the will of God (“obedience of faith” Rom. 1:5; 16:26). The person who has faith will not be a loafer, shirker, or one who makes a mere profession; he will be a worker!
It is easy to make the claim or to profess faith. A lot of people are “faithful” in claim only! James said, “. . . shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (Jas. 2:18).
But notice another thing here. In Romans 10:17, we see that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Therefore, it cannot be a work of faith, if it is not based upon the Word of God. If it is not a “work of faith” then it is not a “good” work; “. . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23).. This convicts our liberal brethren with all of their “good works.” You cannot have a good work without having the good word! Therefore, anything that is without the Word (law) is not good, but rather it is iniquity! Is that not what Jesus is saying in Matthew 7:23?
Yes, faith leads one to work! It does not lead one to indifference and lukewarmness. What about your dear reader? Do you have a vibrant, working faith? Let us “examine ourself, whether we be in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).
2. Your Labor of Love: Their labor, toil, was untiring and devoted, because it was motivated by love (1 Cor. 13). They had love for their brethren and they loved God. Therefore they labored to help their brethren in times of distress (whether of a physical or spiritual nature) and they labored to keep the commands of the Lord, because Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jno. 14:15). (Read also verses 21, 23.)
Love is not idle! It is always expressed in obedience. Love and obedience cannot be separated! Love for God necessitates obedience (Jno 14:15, 21, 23). Love for man is seen in our consideration for his best interest, rather than in the selfish “Me, Myself, and I” attitude (Phil. 2:1-4). No, my friend, love is not idle – it is “labor of love.” It is very simple really. If you love God, you will do something about it! If you love your brethren, it will be manifested. If you love your fellowman, you will act accordingly!
3. Your Patience of Hope: Their hope in Christ sustained their souls so that they were able to endure trials and persecutions and were unyielding in their stand for truth. They were persecuted and faced trials of faith (the faithful might always expect this – 2 Tim. 3:12) but Paul remembered their “patience of hope.” Again James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).
Let us remember that hope of future blessings and joy in heaven with God will help us to bear with patience whatever we may face in this life. This is why “hope” is said to be an “anchor to the soul” (Heb. 6:19). We look forward with great expectation, but we must “with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:25). This is of course to be found in Jesus Christ. Without Him who died for us, we have no hope (1 Tim. 1:1).
Faith, hope, and love – all three set before us in this one verse. (Read 1 ~or. 13:13;1 Thess. 5:8; Co. 1:4-5.) These must form an integral part of our life as a Christian – they stand out – they are not soon forgotten!
Truth Magazine XXIII: 35, p. 562
September 6, 1979