I THESSALONIANS 1:2-3: “We always thank God for all of you as we remember you in our prayers. In the presence of our God and Father, we never forget that your faith is active, your love is working hard, and your confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ is enduring.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: How can I tell if I am growing in my faith? When I go for a physical, the first thing the nurse does is check my vital signs – weight, temperature, blood pressure. Why are these so important? These are three indicators that give a quick picture of my health. There are other tests for specific areas, but these three simple tests can help determine whether I am in good health or if there is some problem that has developed that needs to be addressed.
Are there “vital signs” for our faith? In Paul’s opening remarks in his letter to the Thessalonians he shares three vital signs that give evidence that these believer had a growing and active faith. The first is that their faith was active.
In the New Testament, faith is never a passive term. It does not simply mean to believe in something. Rather, I define it as – “Believing in something so much that it causes you to act.” If I believe that I should save for my retirement, my faith in this statement is not complete until I begin to put money an account for that purpose. James makes it clear – faith without works is dead. The believers in Thessalonica were living a life that gave a witness to their faith – through their actions. Their embrace of the “Good News” was evidenced in their changed lives. Their’s was a faith that had feet. They were living what they believed!
The next vital sign was that their love was working hard. How does love work hard? In the Scriptures, like faith, love is not simply an emotion – love is an action. The greatest example of this is the love of God shown to us in Jesus Christ. There are two verses that go hand in hand that help us define love. They are both found in books written by the Apostle John, and both have the same verse address (although in different books), which makes them easy to remember!
- “God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.” (John 3:16 GW)
- “We understand what love is when we realize that Christ gave his life for us. That means we must give our lives for other believers.” (1 John 3:16 GW)
In the verses that follow the passage in I John, John spells out what love in action is. It is not a warm wish to someone in need. It is a tangible expression in deed to help give them what they need. God gave us Jesus. We are called to give to others in a tangible and practical way. This is love working hard!
Finally, there is confidence in the Lord that is enduring. This is the natural outgrowth of an active faith and a love that is working hard. It is the fruit of faithfulness and intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a wonderful worship song that puts it so eloquently.
The more I seek You,
The more I find You,
The more I find You,
The more I love You!
As we grow in our love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we also grow in our confidence in Him. It is this confidence that assures us of both our coming redemption, and of His faithfulness and care for our current situation. We know that God is for us! We stand completed and strengthened in His love. We join the Apostle Paul in proclaiming,
- “The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.” (Romans 8:37-39 GW)
Lord, this morning as I begin my day, help me to check my vital signs. Grant me the grace to walk today with an active faith. Give me the compassion to express a love that is working hard. And help me grow in my love and confidence in You so that I can persevere in this life. If there are any areas I am deficient, guide me by Your truth, uphold me by Your hand, and heal me with Your love!
In Jesus Name!