1 Thessalonians 1:3 “We 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.” (NIV)
Paul opens his letter to the Thessalonians with faith, hope, and love. Paul closed 1 Corinthians 13 with the same three words. These three characteristics in Corinthians refer to the character of your Christian life, while their use in Thessalonians refers to the quality of your walk in Christ. These three characteristics – faith, hope, and love – give a great insight into how you can not only experience more of Christ, but also allow Him to produce a greater measure of fruitfulness in you. Whatever God produces in you will be born out of faith. Every step you take with Christ is a step of faith in not only believing who He is, but also trusting Jesus with your desires and plans. Once you leave your own strength and enter into a faith walk, you begin to labor in Christ. Labor!?! Your walk of faith will take you into the unknown, pit you against the acceptable, separate you from your culture and the ways of the world, and put you on a path you may not have anticipated. This is labor compared to coasting on a cloud with a harpist playing “O how I love Jesus.” This labor is produced out of your growing and deepening love for Jesus. How far you labor in your faith will typically be in direct proportion to how deep your love is for Jesus. How deep your love for Jesus will depend on the passion of your intimacy for Christ. Jesus called us to endure the race. Your endurance will be motivated by your hope in Jesus and His promises. Faith, hope, and love are all interdependent upon the quality of your race. Paul ends 1 Thessalonians by saying in 5:8 “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” He uses the same three traits, but adds a small twist – “the hope of salvation as a helmet.” Ultimately your endurance to finish the race well will be fueled by the hope of the salvation you possess. No matter what life and God throw at you, your hope in Jesus will protect you to the end.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (NIV)