Your work of faith - This verse contains a very high character of the believers at Thessalonica. They had Faith, not speculative and indolent, but true, sound, and operative; their faith worked. They had Love, not that gazed at and became enamoured of the perfections of God, but such a love as labored with faith to fulfill the whole will of God. Faith worked; but love, because it can do more, did more, and therefore labored - worked energetically, to promote the glory of God and the salvation of men. They had Hope; not an idle, cold, heartless expectation of future good, from which they felt no excitement, and for which they could give no reason, but such a hope as produced a satisfying expectation of a future life and state of blessedness, the reality of which faith had descried, and love anticipated; a hope, not hasty and impatient to get out of the trials of life and possess the heavenly inheritance, but one that was as willing to endure hardships as to enjoy glory itself, when God might be most honored by this patient endurance. Faith worked, Love labored, and Hope endured patiently.
It is not a mark of much grace to be longing to get to heaven because of the troubles and difficulties of the present life; they who love Christ are ever willing to suffer with him; and he may be as much glorified by patient suffering, as by the most active faith or laborious love. There are times in which, through affliction or other hinderances, we cannot do the will of God, but we can suffer it; and in such cases he seeks a heart that bears submissively, suffers patiently, and endures, as seeing him who is invisible, without repining or murmuring. This is as full a proof of Christian perfection as the most intense and ardent love. Meekness, gentleness, and long-suffering, are in our present state of more use to ourselves and others, and of more consequence in the sight of God, than all the ecstasies of the spirits of just men made perfect, and than all the raptures of an archangel. That Church or Christian society, the members of which manifest the work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope, is most nearly allied to heaven, and is on the suburbs of glory.
Remembering without ceasing - Remembering your faith and love whenever we pray. This is not to be understood literally, but it is language such as we use respecting anything that interests us much. It is constantly in our mind. Such an interest the apostle had in the churches which he had established.
Your work of faith - That is, your showing or evincing faith. The reference is probably to acts of duty, holiness, and benevolence, which proved that they exercised faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Works of faith are those to which faith prompts, and which show that there is faith in the heart. This does not mean, therefore, a work of their own producing faith, but a work which showed that they had faith.
And labour of love - Labour produced by love, or showing that you are actuated by love. Such would be all their kindness toward the poor, the oppressed, and the afflicted; and all their acts which showed that they loved the souls of people.
And patience of hope - Patience in your trials, showing that you have such a hope of future blessedness as to sustain you in your afflictions. It was the hope of heaven through the Lord Jesus that gave them patience; see the notes on Romans 8:24. “The phrases here are Hebraisims, meaning active faith, and laborious love, and patient hope, and might have been so translated.” Doddridge.
In our Lord Jesus Christ - That is, your hope is founded only on him. The only hope that we have of heaven is through the Redeemer.
In the sight of God and our Father - Before God, even our Father. It is a hope which we have through the merits of the Redeemer, and which we are permitted to cherish before God; that is, in his very presence. When we think of God; when we reflect that we must soon stand before him, we are permitted to cherish this hope. It is a hope which will be found to be genuine even in the presence of a holy and heart-searching God. This does not mean that it had been merely professed before God, but that it was a hope which they might dare to entertain even in the presence of God, and which would bear the scrutiny of his eye.
Believe it because it is the truth, because God says it, and lay hold upon the meritorious blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. He is your only hope, He is your righteousness, your Substitute and Surety, your all in all. When you realize that, you can bring to Him only an offering of praise. But when you are not willing to come to Christ and acknowledge that He does it all, when you feel that you must first take a few steps, and come so far, and then God will meet you; that is just exactly like Cain's offering. He did not know Jesus, and he did not know that the blood of Jesus could cleanse his sins and make his offering acceptable to God. There are more Cains than one, with tainted offerings and polluted sacrifices and without the blood of Jesus. You are to come to Jesus Christ at every step. With the blood of Jesus and its cleansing power, offer your petitions to God and pray to Him in earnest, and study your Bibles as never before. FW 76.3Read in context »
Our spiritual strength and blessing will be proportionate to the labor of love and good works which we perform. The injunction of the apostle is, “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Keeping the commandments of God requires of us good works, self-denial, self-sacrifice, and devotion for the good of others, not that our good works alone can save us, but that we surely cannot be saved without good works. After we have done all that we are capable of doing we are then to say, We have done no more than our duty, and at best are unprofitable servants, unworthy of the smallest favor from God. Christ must be our righteousness.... TMK 334.3Read in context »