A common theme in Paul's letters is the triumvirate of faith, hope, and love. We see them most clearly in the Love Chapter where Paul says "and now abide faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).
While faith, hope, and love evoke warm thoughts and make cute charms on a bracelet or necklace, to Paul these were not mere words; they are imbued with life. In I Thessalonians 1:3, he links faith with works, love with labor, and hope with endurance. Genuine faith manifests itself in Christian works. Real love manifests itself in selfless service for others, and real hope allows believers to endure difficulties with grace. None are static.
A love that doesn't serve selflessly is not love at all. A hope that doesn't persevere is not true hope. A faith that doesn't work - producing Christian conduct and character--is dead faith.
Paul commends the Thessalonians for their vibrant faith, genuine love and living hope. Faith, coupled with repentance, is evident as they turn to God from idols to serve the living God (1:9); love shows up in their behavior toward other believers (1:7); and hope manifests itself in their enduring severe suffering (1:6). Faith, hope, and love are not lucky charms but lifestyle characteristics of those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Finally, genuine faith, hope and love produce evangelism: "The Lord's message ran out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere" (1:8).
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- What is the initial response to Paul's preaching in Thessalonica?
- How do the Bereans differ from those at Thessalonica?
- Why and how does Paul change his Gospel approach to those at Athens?
- How do the Thessalonicans, Bereans, Athenians, and Corinthians differ in their response to Paul and the Gospel message?
- What does Paul say that most certainly encourages the Thessalonian believers?
- How does Paul describe his ministry in Thessalonica?
- What keeps Paul grounded/focused in spite of suffering for preaching the Gospel?
- What two comparisons does Paul use to describe his ministry among those at Thessalonica? What does this teach us about how we are to minister to those around us?
- How does Paul describe the Jews who resisted the Gospel themselves and persecuted those who've come to faith in Christ Jesus?
Paul exhibits genuine faith, love, and hope as do the Thessalonian believers. Ask the Lord to show you where you lack genuine faith, hope, and love.