1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 Paul begins by letting the Christians in Thessalonica that his heart was filled with gratitude. Paul started the church there in less than ideal circumstances, being run out of town after only three weekends with them (Acts 17:1-10). Yet the church was strong and full of life. Paul knew that this work was beyond him and his abilities and that it was the work of God. “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.”

Heibert explains further “The regularly recurring nature of the thanksgiving is also implied in the use of the present tense of the verb. It is their practice to give thanks to God ‘continually, never skipping a single day.’” Gratitude is such a powerful thing, and Paul practices it daily. It is a great spiritual discipline we all should do more of it. Praying for people or churches doesn’t have to be a long and formal process. Paul often prayed simple prayers even merely mentioning people or a church in his prayer. We should not get caught up in formality or trying to make every mention a long drawn out prayer. Tell God about the blessing and needs of those in your patch.

So why was Paul so thankful for the Thessalonian Christians? They simply did things that Paul could not forget. Guzik describes Paul’s gratitude this way:

  • “Paul’s gratitude didn’t come because all the Christians in Thessalonica thought so highly of him. Later, Paul used a whole chapter defending himself and his ministry against slander and false accusations.
  • Paul’s gratitude didn’t come because the Thessalonian Christians were morally impeccable. Later in the letter, Paul strongly warned them against the failings in regard to sexual impurity.
  • Paul’s gratitude didn’t come because the Thessalonian Christians were completely accurate in all their doctrine. He had to correct some of their wrong ideas in that area also.”

Paul’s relationship with the people in Thessalonica was not with challenges, but there was obviously work of the Holy Spirit that was happening among them. Paul calls out three very important virtues of a Christ Follower – faith, love and hope. Hiebert says “Here for the first time, chronologically, in Paul’s writings we have this famous triad: faith, love, hope. But Paul’s stress is not on these virtues alone, but rather upon what they produce.” Specifically, Paul relates these three key things this way:

  • Faith produced work
  • Love produced labor
  • Hope produced steadfastness or patience

Paul saw fruit from the Holy Spirit working in and through the Christ Followers in Thessalonica. Our lives should produce faith, love and hope as well!

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