Today’s reading took me to First Thessalonians where Paul tells the church how he thanks God for them and the things he appreciates in them.
The fourth verse in 1 Thessalonians is a really short prayer, and some might not even consider it a prayer since Paul is simply telling the Thessalonians what he prays about concerning them. But I think it still meets the criteria for our purposes today, giving us insight into the kinds of spiritual blessings we can ask God for.
Paul writes, “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.”
Again Paul starts with the idea of continual prayer. He doesn’t just think about these fellow believers on the day he writes to them, but he remembers them continually as he talks with God. It makes me realize that I don’t often remember before our God the people in my life who are faithfully working for Him. I don’t simply pray to acknowledge the efforts of the gals I do Bible Study with or my fellow teachers and helpers who so faithfully love the preschoolers on Sunday mornings. I might pray for a need our pastors have, but rarely a prayer thanking God for their endurance in serving our church.
As Paul writes to the Thessalonians he says he remembers their work produced by faith. This isn’t any old work he’s talking about. There are routine jobs and duties we take care of which require little to no faith. But then there are things God asks us to do that will only be done with faith in God’s ability to work through us. This is something I want for me, my family and my friends; that we would have the faith to do the works that God has pre-determined for us. That when God asks us to do what seems impossible, we would boldly walk in faith to do the work.
And furthermore, when we do those tasks in faith, we would do them because of the love we have for God’s people and His creation. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit in Galatians therefore we can know that true love can only come from allowing the Holy Spirit to live and work in our lives. We know this because the subject of love is given a whole chapter in 1 Corinthians and clearly this love is more than we can do on our own! So when Paul prays about the labor prompted by love he is commending them for allowing the Spirit to work in them, producing the fruit of love in them.
And finally he prays that all these works, done in faith and prompted by love, would be worked to completion with an endurance that comes from the hope we have in Christ. This makes me think of Paul’s writing to the Galatians in chapter 6 where he says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” When we rely on the Spirit to work in us, and know that our dedication will be rewarded we can have the endurance it takes to do God’s will through the good times and the not so good times.
And then to know one day we will hear the words spoken by Christ, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Oh what joy to pray for this kind of endurance for ourselves, our family and our brothers and sisters in Christ!