In this chapter, Paul starts off his letter to Thessalonians with grateful words of praise – thanking them for maintaining their faith despite their hardships.
3 We 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.
In describing their faith, he highlights three important elements that he appraises them for: faith, love and hope. In fact, these aspects effectively describe how we should approach what we do – from the mentality, motivation and the perseverance in the long term. This is especially important in evangelism, in serving God and when maintaining the notion that everything we do, we do for His glory.
(1) Work Produced by Faith
Faith is “assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Not only should our actions be in accordance to our belief in God and that the gospel is real, but we should be driven or inspired by it. Us going out of our way to tell the people around us about God should be a direct result of our faith in Christ.
If we can truly understand that evangelism should be a faith-inspired act, then we will be able to overcome our own ‘barriers’ – from the many thoughts and excuses that we might make for ourselves, to the fear of rejection. The chances of success in evangelism is not measured by the things we CAN see (i.e. our own calculations based on what we know about the other person). But rather, God just wants to count on our faith and whether they accept or not does not depend on us. As the old saying goes: try your best and God will do the rest.
(2) Your Labor Prompted by Love
Here, labor refers to hardship and effort… it even suggests that it might be a painstaking effort as, for most, it requires stepping out of their comfort zones. In Matthew 5:11, it is written that those who are persecuted in the name of Christ will be rewarded in heaven.Paul writes that our efforts should be fuelled by love: love for God and love for the people. In 1 Corinthians 13, it is written that “love is patient, love is kind” followed by a long list of descriptions of what ‘love’ is. By learning how to love, we can appreciate the value of evangelism and make a sacrifice.
(3) Your Endurance Inspired by Hope
To sustain in the long term, hope is needed to help us endure and persevere. In the context of evangelism, this can be continual rejection or even persecution. Here, hope means optimism – that one should not feel discouraged in the long term but should instead remain motivated in our efforts to spread the gospel!