A mother took her young son shopping. At the end of the day, a clerk handed the little boy a lollipop.
“What do you say?” the mother said to her son.
With a big smile on his face and great confidence, he exuded, “Charge it!”
Ah, the power of influence. And the impact our lives have on others even in the seemingly most insignificant ways.
In Paul’s first lesson to the Thessalonians, he speaks of their example to those “in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.” In fact, the influence of their Christian lives so was great that Paul wrote, “that we need not say anything.” But he did.
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. “
Contained in the text are the three great ingredients of the Christian faith.
(1) Work of Faith.
Their faith was apparent when they heard the gospel they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Faith issues itself not just in words, but in deeds. For centuries there has been a theological debate regarding the role of faith and works in salvation. But James’ succinct statement should settle it for all time. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (Jas 2:26).
Too many have a faulty idea of what faith is. “Faith is not jumping to conclusions, it is concluding to jump.” As one writer put it,”We are not saved by faith plus works, but by a faith that works.”
Our works are spurred on by our faith in “The Faith” (Rom. 5:1-2). That faith which justifies. Redeems. Reconciles. And makes known the way of righteousness.
As my favorite writer anonymous wrote, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible.” The reception of God’s precious promises are predicated on our faith.
(2) Labor of Love.
The Thessalonians’ love for God was evidenced as they served Him. Love prompts us to labor for the Lord.
Barclay tells a story about Bernard Newman who once stayed in a Bulgarian peasant’s house. All the time he was there the daughter was stitching away at a dress. Newman said to her, “Don’t you ever get tired of that eternal sewing?” “O no!” she exclaimed, “you see this is my wedding dress.”
There is no work too arduous, no commandment too burdensome and no labor too laborious, when it is done with love.
Love labors for God. For His people. And for those who are not yet Believers.
(3) Patience of Hope.
The Thessalonians were waiting for the Lord’s return. They were patient. Steadfast. Expectantly enduring.
Faith provides hope. And love supplies the submissive steadiness to endure trials, temptations, and trouble.
Hope prompts the farmer to plan. Prods the soldier on in battle. Spurs the athlete to victory. And offers the motivation to the Christian to keep on keeping on.
Everything God requires for the church and each individual Christian is fortified, strengthened, and incentivized by faith, hope, and love. Our worship. Our discipleship. Our fellowship. Our ministry. Our evangelistic outreach. All of these efforts prescribed by faith, pursed through hope and perfected and performed by love.
Never, ever discount the impact of your influence. Of the testimony of your faith. Of the demonstration of your hope. And the expression of your love.
In the words of an unknown author…
My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done;
Leave countless marks for good or ill, ere sets the evening sun.
This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray:
Lord, may my life help other lives it touches by the way.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman