We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We 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.
There is no better way to explain it other than God truly desired a church to be established in the town of Thessalonica (the record of this church plant is found in Acts 17:1-9). God so strongly impressed upon Paul this desire that the apostle passed through towns to get to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1). Paul, Silas, and Timothy were only there for maybe three weeks, but in that time, a church was planted that had all the ingredients of becoming a ‘model’ church, a template for great ministry impact!
In this first letter to the church, written perhaps just four or five months after the visit from the missionary team and upstart of the church, Paul speaks of their “work produced by faith.” Imagine the soul in which the Spirit of God enters and dwells creating such a transformation that the person cannot help but exhibit godly characteristics. Now, multiply that throughout a group of called out people and imagine the exponential impact and growth throughout a community. That is what was happening through this Thessalonian church (v 7-8).
There was a “labor prompted by love.” Love costs something both materially and physically. We can only express this kind of love authentically in the context of a relationship with God. The Church today would do well to check its spiritual pulse and then its schedule in order to notice what is truly done out of a pure love for others. Faith is the foundation of the Church and love is the momentum that arises out of faith.
But hope is the Church’s motivation! The Church endures because of a steadfast hope, a firm conviction in what Christ did on the cross paid for mankind’s sin, and by His resurrection, provided an assurance of eternal fellowship with Him in heaven. The Thessalonians were a prime example of this kind of lifestyle. They were a template for even modern-day churches to follow.
Coinciding with the work of this church in Thessalonica was the work of the missionary team through prayer (considering that prayer for others is work). There was a continual care and concern that Paul and the missionary team gave to this church. They thanked God for their ministry impact on those around them, offered continual prayer on their behalf, and then remembered the ways in which they were genuinely showing evidence of their call by God. It was the mutual work of each other that fostered the impact, the faith, the love, and the hope of this church!
What was true for the Thessalonians is true for us today. Lives transformed by Christ exemplify a lifestyle marked by faith, love for others, and a hope in the work of Christ and His soon return. Read the rich words of this letter and see how it bolsters your faith, love, and hope for all the promises of God!
By Bill Niblette, Ph.D., Bible League International staff, Pennsylvania, U.S.