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The Seeds and Fruit of Christian Character

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIVUK)

Despite the brief time Paul and his team spent in Thessalonica, the gospel had taken root in the hearts of new believers. Some Jews, many Gentiles and influential people put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and a church had been formed (Acts 17:4). And so Paul, Silas and Timothy praised God for those new brothers and sisters. They were cherished because they were examples of God's grace. They were often prayed for individually, because they were targets for persecution and infiltration by false doctrine.
 
The converts had changed (2 Corinthians 5:17). When they believed in Jesus as Saviour and Lord, the Holy Spirit gave them new motivations which resulted in a different lifestyle (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Faith in Jesus, love for Jesus and hope (the confident expectation of His return) reshaped their diaries, reset their priorities and energised their practical commitment to their new Master. They are the seeds from which a transformed life develops.
 
The words used for 'work', 'labour' and 'endurance' represent a crescendo of energy. They could be described as 'work', 'very hard work' and 'ongoing very hard work in the face of opposition'. Faith stirs us to obedience, love stirs us to sacrifice and hope gives us a refusal to give up. This is not human enthusiasm for a new hobby which thrives with positive feedback; it is divine power to fulfil divine objectives. However, people who do not trust Jesus for their salvation will not obey Him; those who do not value His sacrifice will not 'take up their cross daily' for His sake (Luke 9:23); and those who are not looking forward to His return will not continue to serve Him in the face of opposition.
 
Behaviour is the outward evidence of inner faith. Service is the fruit of a commitment to Jesus: to trust, to give and to keep going. What we hold in our hearts will dictate what we do. And yet for many, faith is a religious and cultural idea, love is welcomed but rarely expressed in sacrifice, and the Bible's teaching about the Second Coming remains a concept. That is not true Christian faith. So let us ask the Holy Spirit to rekindle our faith in Jesus, our love for Jesus and our life ambitions - so that the return of Jesus becomes our daily motivation to serve Him whatever tries to oppose us (James 5:7-11).

Prayer 
Gracious God. Thank You for all that Jesus has done for me. I feel ashamed to realise the weakness of my faith, love and hope. Please bring my attention back to Jesus so that He will be my inspiration and motivation to serve Him with all I have, and keep going through opposition, until He comes. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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