This morning I enjoyed this verse so much – 1 Thes 1:3, ‘Remembering unceasingly your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father‘. Just to pray over this verse, to ask the Lord,
Lord, may my work be a work of faith, in faith, in this organic union with You! And not just work, Lord, but even my labor – be in love! Not laboring begrudgingly, or painfully, or dutifully – but in love, having a labor of love, out of love! And, Lord, strengthen my hope in Your coming! Be my endurance until You come, and may this hope be with me all the time! Lord, endurance of hope!
This verse is the reality of the living of a vital person in a vital group: our work is of faith, of this organic union with the Triune God. Faith does not originate with us – it comes from our contact with the Lord, when He appears to us and infuses us with the ability to believe. When faith is generated in us, and we enjoy the Lord in faith, whatever we do is a work of faith!
But we are not just working: just like Paul – who labored more abundantly than all the others(1 Cor. 15:10) and labored so that he would present the saints full grown in Christ(Col. 2:1) – we in the vital groups labor in love. This is a continual labor, just like the mother takes a continual & life-long care of her children; the ones the Lord placed on our heart/with us, we labor in love to take care of them! Planting, watering, taking care of the seed of life so that it may grow in us and in the others – all this takes time. The farmers don’t just sow the seed & water it once or twice, or even a whole week, and then they get the crops – we also need to labor continually in tilling the ground, fertilizing the soil, watering the plants – day by day! It can be exhausting – nothing can exhaust you more than laboring in love – but there is always the continual supply of the Spirit and the endurance of hope! Our labor is not in vain in the Lord(1 Cor. 15:58).
Our endurance of hope is in addition to our labor of love: we have a hope in the Lord’s coming to reward us with His kingdom! We strive, struggle, fight, for the reward of the kingdom age! This endurance of hope strengthens us in our work of faith and in our labor of love. We can go through any persecutions or oppositions, subduing all kinds of disappointments, discouragements, and impossibilities – because of such an endurance of hope! The consummation of the endurance of hope(which is the Lord Himself in us, Christ in you the hope of glory!) is the gaining of sinners, the feeding of the fellow believers, the perfecting of the saints, and the building up of the church(the Body of Christ) for the bringing in of the New Jerusalem!
There are so many riches in this verse! I would gladly recommend the footnotes that open up the many items here – enjoy it!