|Subject: Prayer of Thanksgiving: Part 4 - 1 Thessalonians 1:3c Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:56 am|| |
Prayer of Thanksgiving: Part 4 - 1 Thessalonians 1:3c
Written by LaRosa Johnson
Monday, August 24, 2009
In our past few times together, we have seen Paul beginning to build a magnificent blessing of thanksgiving to God the Father on behalf of the believers in Thessalonica. From his continual thanksgiving to his abundance of prayer, Paul is nothing but encouraged by these believers. When we were last together, we looked at one of the things that Paul was thankful for, which was these believers' work of faith, their acceptance of the gospel message. Today, we will see Paul continuing with his thankfulness as he shares his next reason for praise. So, let's open the Word and dive in!
- Quote :
- 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (NASB) - constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father (emphasis added)
As we see in looking at this verse, the next thing that Paul constantly kept in mind was the Thessalonians' "labor of love." If you look at this verse as a logical progression, which it is, you would expect for their "labor of love" to be the next thing that Paul would mention. After being thankful for their salvation, he moves forward to being thankful for their living out of the Christian life. When you look at Scripture, this is all but obvious; agapaō love toward others is the natural outpouring of putting one's faith in Jesus Christ. This truth is seen all over Scripture, and Jesus emphasized this on more than one occasion with His disciples (John 14:15, 21-23; 15:10; Matt. 22:36-40). The epistles also make note of this too (Gal. 5:13; Heb 6:10, 11; 1 John 3:18; 5:3), which goes to show that this is a concept that believers need to pay close attention to. When put all of these passages together, you get an overwhelming sense that love and serving others is an integral part of the Christian life, which they are.
We aren't going to just leave it at that, though, because we need to understand what Paul means by the word "labor." The usage of love is quite obvious because it's all throughout the Bible and New Testament, but "labor" isn't quite as obvious. The word for "labor" comes from the Greek word kopou (Strong's G2873) and means: to engage in activity that is burdensome, work, labor, toil. This word occurs eighteen (18) times in the New Testament scriptures, but there is a heavy word usage in 1 Thessalonians, even though it is only used a total of three times (1 Thess. 1:3; 2:9; 3:5). 2 Corinthians has more hits (4), but when the size of the books are compared, 1 Thessalonians has a heavier concentration. In this letter, Paul uses this word to describe the kind of hard work of ministry that he was doing while with them, specifically in the latter two occurrences. In this passage, because of Paul's example, we see that these believers were diligent to follow in the footsteps of Paul and worked hard at putting their faith to work through their love (1 Thess. 1:6). Much like we see in James 2:14-26, it was the love of these believers that became the proof of their faith in Jesus Christ; their love was the outworking of their faith. In other words, using the language of our passage, their "labor of love" was the evidence that their "work of faith" was genuine.
The Thessalonian believers provide a great example for us as present day Christians. Once they put their faith in Jesus Christ, they didn't waste any time making sure that it was evident in their lives. We need to be the same way; like we studied in James, we should be laboring in the work and service of ministry, as a proof that our faith is true. The truth is that if we don't do this, then the onlookers have no proof that we are Christians; instead, they will label us as hypocrites who serve a false god. The Thessalonians had it right though, they lived their faith through their love. I think John sums it up nicely, so that is the word I want to leave us with for today before we come back again to look at the next trait.
- Quote :
- 1 John 3:18 (NASB) - Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.
devotion courtesy of Trailblazin Ministries
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