1 Thessalonians 1:3 (New International Version)
3We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
I'm still in the running on the Marathon of Biblical Proportions, but oh, I am soooo far behind.
We were supposed to be through the Bible by the end of December and here we are in April and I just finished 1 Thessalonians this morning. I confess this partly to console fellow laggards if there are any out there.
I laugh, but really I'm not too worried. I'm enjoying my solitary trot, even if Paul does rub in from time to time that he is leaving me in the dust as he races through for the second time. I can't help it; I am a contemplative soul at heart and God does arrest my steps sometimes, just as I start to read. He did it this morning just three verses into Thessalonians--the words danced on the page before my eyes in a pattern. I found myself pondering:
Work produced by faith
Labour prompted by love
Endurance inspired by hope (in our Lord Jesus)
"Hmmmm," I thought, "So faith produces work." James tells us that faith without action is dead, so that makes sense. Faith should result in an impulse to do something practical in response.
Labour seems a step beyond mere work, however. It makes me think of rolled up sleeves and worn out knees. It is a response that flows from a glad heart of love. We gladly pour ourselves out for others when we love.
Endurance is the final point. I loved that the New International Version says that endurance is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus. Hope is the breath that envigorates the work or labour. Inspiration means to breathe, therefore a heart filled with hope breathes life and energy into what we do. Even when the going gets tough we can endure when we breathe in hope.
And it is all summed up beautifully at the end of the book:
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (New International Version)
8 ...putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.