Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Shepastor: “The Mark of a Christian Part II”

1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 New International Version (NIV)

1 Paul, Silas[a] and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 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.

Last week, Shepastor explored the example set by the Christians in Thessalonica. In particular, we looked at their “work produced by faith.” This week, we consider the 2nd powerful characteristic exhibited by the Thessalonian Church, their “Labor prompted by love.”

Paul lifted this characteristic of the Thessalonian Christians. He honored them for labor prompted by their love. You have heard the phrase, “it was a labor of love…” The term labor connotes something more than just work. It conveys a sense of struggle, a pushing, even painful. When mothers are giving birth to a child, they refer to it as “labor.” They can tell how close the mother is to giving birth by the strength of the labor pains. When the baby is about to come forth, that’s when it hurts the most!

Paul said that the Thessalonian Christians’ labor was produced by their love. Even though it hurts, that mother is willing to go through the pain because they know that on the other side of that pain, will be a beautiful baby that they will hold, nurture, love and cherish for the rest of their lives. In a similar way, we push, we press, we suffer, we struggle to bring forth that which the Lord has planted within us because we love the Lord. Not only that, we love one another. Love will make you go the extra mile of the way. Love will compel you to get up and do what you don’t feel like doing. Love will urge you on when you feel like stopping. Love gives you what you need to press on further.

When we love something or someone, we go all out. We may not have much but we scrape together what we can to fulfill a need of someone that we love. SO in addition to having work that is produced by faith, another mark of a Christian is that their labor is prompted by their love.

Working in the church can be hard. Serving in the church, while it’s a joy, it can also be laborious. When nobody is watching, when nobody is applauding, when very few are serving and even fewer are witnessing, the “labor” then rests on a few. That happens in ALL churches, large, small and mid-size. Every church has what is called the “faithful few.” Because the labor of the ministry takes dedication. It takes sacrifice. It takes patience. It takes endurance. It takes LOVE…love of the Lord, love of God’s people, love of Christian discipleship and love for the lost. Jesus said, “They will know that we are Christians BY OUR LOVE!”

Love moves the Christian into a dimension above those who are just carrying out duties. Love is patient, love is kind, love is humble, love is not easily angered, love endures testing. Love is the more excellent way! Love helps you to turn the other cheek. Love helps you to ignore foolishness. Love enables you to pray for your enemies. Love makes us more like Jesus! The Christian labors in the work of the ministry because of their love. The mark of a Christian is labor prompted by love.

Next week we will look at the third mark of a Christian in this text, “endurance that is inspired by hope."

Until then,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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