In First Corinthians 13, the familiar love chapter, Paul wrote that faith, hope and love abide and the greatest of the three was love. In First Thessalonians 1:3 he gave thanks to God for the work of faith, the labor of love, and their steadfastness of hope in Jesus. Again, the three together – faith, hope and love.

As we reflect on our Christian life, we can identify our work of faith. Faith, believing in God, trusting in Jesus, works. Faith is not a passive thing like wearing a necklace with a cross on it, it is active in doing something that is good for another person. Think of faith as Jesus holding on to your hand which makes it impossible for you with your other hand to hurt anybody. Knowing that Jesus is that close at hand motivates us to do what pleases Him.

The work of faith and the labor of love go hand in hand. The love of Jesus lives in our heart and our mind as we remember His self-sacrificing love on the cross. Jesus did what was good based not on what people had earned, but what all people needed, and He was able to provide. He had no promise that anybody would believe in Him and accept His forgiveness. He had no promise that He would receive any benefit for what He was doing. It was a labor of love that sets the pattern for our labor of love. The good we do is done because of love, not in the hope of a reward, or even being recognized, but simply because it needs to be done and we can do it. And that is a liberating thought.

Work of faith, labor of love, energized by a steadfast hope in Jesus. And our hope in Jesus is based on the solid rock of His word. It is the eternal certain everlasting word that stands forever sure. Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of the Lord endures forever. That hope focuses on the promise of Jesus that He will return in glory and bring all things to completion. There is no doubt in our mind Jesus came the first time, that He suffered, died, and rose again, and promised to give eternal life to all who will believe in Him. Therefore, there is no doubt that He will come again and with steadfast hope we look forward to that event.

Faith and hope will be replaced by sight when Jesus returns in glory, and love will continue forever. Until that time, smile as the apostle Paul gives thanks to God for your work of faith, your labor of love and your steadfast hope in Jesus.

Elmer Schiefer
Pastor. Family of Christ Lutheran Church