In the opening verses of 1 Thessalonians, Paul describes ten distinctive traits of the Thessalonian believers: (1) They had a working faith, (2) they had a laboring love, (3) they exhibited an enduring hope, (4) they displayed humility before God for His election and power, (5) they were genuine imitators of Christ, (6) they had joy in the midst of trouble, (7) they lived exemplary lives, (8) they had zeal in their witnessing, (9) they demonstrated transformed lives, and (10) they expectantly awaited the return of the Lord Jesus. To summarize, Paul said that the Thessalonian believers were characterized by faith, love, and hope—the three indispensable traits of a genuine Christian.
Faith is active toward God. Love is active toward other people. Hope is active toward our expectation of the Lord's return.
Each of these traits is outgoing, not inward; active, not passive; visible, not hidden; public, not private. Faith is active toward God. Love is active toward other people. Hope is active toward our expectation of the Lord's return.
Faith is anchored in the past, in actual historic events, as we look back to the Lord's saving work on the cross. Love is anchored in the present, as we practice Christlike love toward the people around us. Hope is anchored in the future, in the trustworthy promises God gave us in His Word.
Every genuine Christian trusts in God's Word, puts his or her beliefs into action toward others, and is confident of his or her ultimate destination. These three traits—faith, love, and hope—prove that we follow Christ, not just on Sunday but every day of the week.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for the example of the Thessalonians, who lived out their faith in the midst of desperately difficult circumstances. I praise You for granting them great faith that inspires me today. I ask for Your Holy Spirit to work in me that same faith, love, and hope, that I might endure all things as I keep my eyes on Jesus. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"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" (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
*Excerpt adapted from Fearless Living in Troubled Times by Michael Youssef © 2017. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.