Faith, love, and hope. These three are often grouped together in the Bible as the basic ingredients of discipleship. For instance, listen to the introduction of Paul’s first letter to the church of the Thessalonians:
We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thes 1:2-3)
When Paul thought of the saints in Thessalonica, he knew there had been challenges…
…you received the word in much affliction… (1:6)
For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews… (2:14)
…but there were God-given ingredients mixed in the hearts of those ordinary men and women that were greater than the challenges. Faith, love, and hope. Their faith was alive. Their love was active. Their hope in the Lord Jesus was steadfast. That’s what Paul remembered about these saints. That’s what he gave thanks to God for and constantly mentioned about them in his prayers. Faith, love, and hope.
You and I may live a very long time after those first-century brothers and sisters in Christ, but their good example is worth appreciating and imitating on an ordinary Tuesday in the twenty-first century:
- As I go about my work today, I will do so with faith in Jesus Christ
- As I labor today, I will press on from a heart of love for God and others
- As I experience the ups-and-downs of the day, I will be fueled and sustained by hope
How? Why? Like those brothers and sisters who lived 2,000 years ago, I’ve turned away from idols to serve the living and true God (1:9). As they were transformed into examples worth imitating, I want to shine as a light for the Lord (1:6-8). Just as they waited, I’m waiting for God’s Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead (1:10). In the meantime, my faith in Jesus will shape my work. My love for the Lord and those created in his image will fuel my labor. My hope in God will keep me stable and steadfast.
So here are six simple words to carry with you throughout the day. It’s an old recipe, but the ingredients abide. They are God-given and Spirit-preserved. Whether you live in the first or the twenty-first century, here’s what you need today more than the air that you’re breathing:
Two thousand years ago, those ingredients in the hearts of ordinary people were noticed and commended by an apostle. They were mentioned and appreciated in his prayers. They led to kingdom-impact in the city of Thessalonica and the surrounding regions. We’re reading about them twenty centuries later! Think about that…
The same faith, love, and hope can make a difference today. In your heart. Through your life. Whatever the challenges in front of you, these ingredients within you are greater.