“…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…“
Paul now points to the persons that produce the three sets of character in verse three.
in our Lord Jesus Christ
Our hope rests in the future coming of Christ (v.10). This hope looks beyond present problems. It looks to the permanent solution Christ will bring.
The three prime virtues of this verse are found in two spheres: 1) “in our Lord Jesus Christ” and 2) “in the sight of our God and Father.” The reason Christians do what they do is because of Jesus Christ and because God the Father watches them. These two dynamics motivated church at Thessalonica and Christians in our day.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” (1 Timothy 1:1)
There is no true hope apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. People try to be optimistic without anything to base their optimism on. Leaders hope against hope. Christians rest our hope on the veracity of God’s promises.
Note the word “our.” This personalizes our hope. The Lord Jesus Christ is mine so I have hope. Jesus is an historical figure to many people but to those who come to trust Him personally for salvation, they place confidence in him experientially. You must be His and He must be yours.
Our passage says that that confidence comes from a person – “in the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word “in” means sphere. The sphere of our confidence is in the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.
Our confidence rests in our personal relationship to Jesus Christ.
One day we will stand before God the Father with confidence. That confidence will be because of Jesus Christ. When we stand in His sphere, therefore, God will accept us because of Him. Our confidence is not going to be in who we are or what we have done. We will not look back over our lives and say, “Oh, I blew it. I failed terribly there.” No, we base our confidence on who Jesus is and what He did for our sins on the cross. That is liberating!
People who constantly rue the past and think about their failures cannot think about the future. They are more consumed with their failure than they are with giving to others. They allow subjective guilt to destroy the potential of how God would use them. Guilt blunts the momentum of Christianity. These people stand in who and what they are. No wonder they lack confidence! They need to confess their sin and move to greater heights in serving the Lord.
Personal momentum produces intrinsic momentum. Personal confidence produces ministry confidence. We need to get out of self, out of our problems. We need to get out of subjectivity and into the objectivity of God’s promises.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
“Oh, you mean that the power does not reside in me?” For sure! The concern is that we do not have confidence in what the gospel can do. We do not believe in the power of the gospel. When a non-Christian is intransigent, implacable and immovable toward the gospel, what do we do? Give up? The believer who has confidence in the power of the gospel trusts God to use His Word to change stubborn hearts. The power is in the gospel, not in the one who delivers the gospel.
Many of us try to justify the gospel or excuse the gospel. That is as if when a thief comes to our house and we meet him with a .45-calibre handgun and we say, “I just want you to understand the power of his gun. It can blow a hole right through you.” We do not have to justify the gun; all we have to do is pull the trigger. All we have to do is present the gospel message. God will do the rest.
Confidence in the power of the gospel has to do with perspective. If we give excuses for the gospel, we do not have confidence in the gospel. Confident people will introduce people to Christ. They will not avoid asking people to make a decision for Christ.
Most people are hung up on themselves. They drag the past around with them. If we drag all our failures and foibles and inconsistencies around with us, how effective are we going to be? We will not be very effective. Our confidence is not in ourselves; it is in Christ.
Momentum comes from a faith that inspires, from a love that motivates and from a confidence that rouses us to action. Momentum comes from people of inspiration.