"Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father" (I Thessalonians 1:3).
Paul had begun the work at Thessalonica, and when forced to leave, he maintained an active interest in and contact with the Thessalonian believers. The book of I Thes-salonians contains both encouragement and commendation for these believers. In the context of our text verse, he mentions some of their strengths, and it would behoove us to take note and apply these strengths to our churches.
Paul mentions the triad of faith, love, and hope so common in New Testament writings. The "work of faith," that past work of salvation in the believer's life, is amplified in verses 4-6, where we see that God has chosen to work His work of grace in them through the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (v.5). Their reception of the Word had been with both affliction and joy (v.6).
Next, Paul commends their "labor of love." They were committed to both outreach and missions, as we see in verses 7 and 8. Their testimony had not only affected the local area, but was "spread abroad." Moreover, they had entered into proper worship of God, maintaining purity of doctrine (v.9). The "labor of love" to others will inevitably follow as a means of serving God.
Lastly, Paul commends their "patience of hope" -- their expectant joyful outlook on the future, waiting for Christ's return (v.10).
May our own churches have this same perspective on the past, present, and future work of Christ. May our own lives give attention to the same details, and have the same goals and outlook as those of the Thessalonian church. Purity in doctrine and a life of service constitute the best way to wait for our Lord's return. JDM