Working for the Eternal
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.—1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
Have you ever met someone that has accomplished a lot in a short period of time? Were you are blown away by the extent of their work? In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul is recognizing something like that in the Thessalonian believers. So, how did these believers accomplish so much?
They knew what they were working for. The philosopher, Plato, taught that everything we see is a shadow of the perfect object in heaven. 1 Corinthians 13:12 explains this concept of temporal versus eternal the best: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” What you see around you is not all there is. And it will not last forever. The Thessalonians knew they were working for things that would last.
They knew where the power to work came from. The Gospel produces a divine work ethic. In verse 3, Paul notes their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” And what did this produce? Well, look further in the text in verse 8. Does the Word of the Lord go forth from my own lips and reach so far that others “need not say anything?” These believers labored hard for the Lord, and He blessed their efforts richly. In this, their work and walk for Christ, the Gospel spread throughout the entire region.
How were they able to labor so hard? Verse 3 said it was a “labor of love.” That’s worship. Our lives are that of constant worship as we labor for Him. The more we labor, the more we worship. Now look at what the text says in verse 4: “For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (emphasis added). They were divinely empowered to.
So what should we take away from this? First, we need to be working for the things that are “real.” Not for things that will rot and fade away. Second, we acknowledge that we are divinely empowered to live a life of worship as we work for our Lord. And third, we need to recognize that how we walk or live out our faith has a large and lasting impact. If it doesn't, it’s time to evaluate.
Prayer: Father, I want to be like the Thessalonian believers, working hard and making a real and lasting impact for Your kingdom. Help me to see the difference between what is for Your glory and what is for mine. Forgive me when I get that mixed up. In Jesus’ name, Amen.