1 Thessalonians 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
In writing to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages them in the three basic virtues of the Christian faith--faith, love, and hope. These aren't just some ethereal intangible qualities; they are seen in that which they produce.
Along this same line of thinking, James reminds us that faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2:17). Faith begins, you may say, in the "heavenly" but finds its expression in the here and now, in what can be seen. James goes on to say, Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do (2:18). Of course we know that our salvation comes out of faith. We can never produce faith of our own works. But once faith comes, it is a strong work horse, bringing forth its consequent actions. I do not exercise faith that a chair will hold me up until I actually sit in the chair and allow it to do so.
By the same token, love is not just a wonderful feeling. There is a labor of love. Love is a decision, first of all. Then its action is carried out in the way it responds. We are commanded to love by Jesus Himself. He tells us that the greatest two commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Doing so, requires labor. There is a labor of love. It is not always easy to love. To engage in true love, we are given the Spirit of the Lord, who is Love. The fruit of His Spirit is love. And we are challenged to be filled with His Spirit. Yes, this is a very real labor to press beyond our natural course of feelings and to choose to love.
And then, the very reason we can continue to press forward in faith and in love is because of the hope in Christ. Christ showed us that He can overcome any obstacle. And so, we too, in Him, can expect, can reach toward that encouragement that nothing is impossible with Him. And indeed, in that, we are inspired to continue to endure, to not give up, but rather to trust in Him.
And finally, we remember Paul's statement concerning these three in 1 Corinthians 13: And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. Faith eventually becomes knowledge; hope leads to realization; love, however, is the one thing that continues forever. So as we labor to love, we labor to live in that which is eternal. And it is a labor spoken of in Hebrews 4 --Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief , resting in His Word and in obedience to Him who says to us, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love (John 15:10). Jesus was once asked the question (John 6:28), "What must we do to do the works God requires?" And in answered that question (vs. 29). . . "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." Sometimes there is such a strong pull to despair, to become discouraged. But let us be encouraged today in that now these three remain: faith, hope and love.