“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 labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In our last blog we looked at the attentiveness and God-centeredness of Paul’s prayer. Paul picks up on three things that are helpful in expressing gratitude to God and cultivating amongst our followers. Let’s look at the three graces of God at work.
1. Work of Faith
Faith is more than an adjective describing something. It’s also a verb that sees action take place. James said, “Faith without works is dead”. The implication being, that faith is to be lived out, the intangible beliefs that pervade the head and heart must make it’s way out through the hands!
The picture here is one of earnest faith, receiving the gospel with open arms and open hearts. Where do we see this in our people?
2. Labour of Love
‘The Darkness’ (the band that is, not the metaphorical picture of evil) famously but incorrectly said, “Love is only a feeling”. The concept of love in the bible is less described as a feeling and more in terms of action. An action that Paul considers is a labour. In order for love to be real, it must be self-sacrificing. It perseveres amidst difficulty, it’s consistent when others waver, it’s selfless whilst others are consumed with self.
This labour of love means we love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I remember John Piper said this means that to love your neighbor as yourself is to love and give the same amount of time, energy, money on others as you do yourself. That my friends is a labour of love.
3. Steadfastness of hope
What keeps the tree safe through the storm? Is it not the roots that go deep? For the Christian the roots that run deep into the truths of the gospel and the hope of Christ’s return. This type of steadfastness calls for resilience and patience. It calls for a resolute mindset to stand firm when we’re tempted to crumple. We are steadfast for Christ Himself is steadfast, immovable from achieving his purpose on earth and reigning now from heaven.
In contrast people tend to fall away at the emerging signs of opposition and difficulty. They walk out the door exclaiming “ this wasn’t what I signed up for”. How we need to disciple the entitlement and “those who pray get their way” mentality.
The Take Home
Leader, see to it that the condition of the faith, love and hope of your people invades your prayers.