“…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father…“
your work of faith,
The first virtue of the Thessalonians is their work produced by their faith.
The Thessalonians’ work sprang from their faith. Faith occasions their work. Faith originates one’s work. Their work was the achievement of their faith. In the hall of fame chapter (Hebrews 11), we see may believers that did many exploits by faith. Their belief bore fruit. True work always originates in faith.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works…. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” (James 2:18-26).
Look at your works, your production in life. Now, look at your faith. Is there any connection between the two? The argument of the book of James is that faith works. True faith shows itself in works. Abraham demonstrated his faith by his willingness to sacrifice Isaac so he justified his faith in the eyes of people.
God is not the one who justifies in the book of James. People justify us if we walk by faith. Rahab, the whore believed God’s promises by faith when Israel crossed the Red Sea, but it was not until forty years later that she demonstrated her faith to the Israelites by hiding the spies. Rahab vindicated the reality of her faith to Israel by hiding those spies. We can measure our faith by what we do.
Our faith motivates our work.
A faith that is dynamic, active, and real rather than static and lifeless will produce work.
The essential element of faith is its focus. If the object of our faith is credible, then we can trust that article of belief. Faith claims the promises of God. When we claim the promises of God, God changes our lives. The Thessalonians turned to God from idols.
Faith rests upon the work of God, not our work. When we rest on God’s work, God produces His work in us.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
We can work in our own effort, or we can work under the power of God. A contractor can carry the bricks of the new house up the scaffold himself, or he can get others to do it. The resources of his business allowed him to hire others to do the work. Every Christian has the capital of God’s resources. The difference between believers is not that some have capital, and others do not. The difference lies in the fact that some use their resources and others do not. When we utilize our assets from God, we will produce divine results. We use our assets by faith.
Why do people do what they do? The motivation of some is for very selfish reasons. They do what they do for adulation, fame, prestige, and distinction, or impact some life. This verse says that our motivation should come from our faith. Later in the chapter, Paul says that the believers at Thessalonica carried their faith to the entire Roman world.
Many people have little faith in what God can do by Christian leadership. What dynamic Christian would want to attend a church or become involved in an organization that does not operate by faith? I would not.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
There are two ways to attempt to work for God: our way or God’s way. If we produce work without God, then it is hollow human work. If we do not serve the Lord by faith, we serve in the flesh. We do it “our way,” not God’s way.
Doing God’s work my way and doing His work His way may appear to be the same, but it is not. God will not reward works motivated by selfish interests. God’s work done in God’s way will receive God’s blessing. If we serve the Lord out of motivation to please Him and do it His way, then He will bless it. Faith always produces genuine work for God. It is a work produced by faith (1 Corinthians 13:11f).