Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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May 9 – Faith And Love

“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 labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess. 1:2,3

Devotional Thought For The Day

What were the things that the apostle commended these early Christians for, thanking God for these fruits that were blossoming in their lives?  First, their “work of faith.” One might easily think that Paul was principally commending their “work” here, to the exclusion of their faith, that the “work” was what was important. However, their “good works” are referenced more clearly in the following phrase, their “labor of love.” What kind of faith yields genuine “work of faith” and “labor of love”?  That is the critical question.

There are essentially two types of religious faith in the world. The one, which is by far the most common, which in fact dominates world religions, is faith that “IF” we do good God will reward us and bless us, but that if we do not do good or if we engage in evil, God will reject us and punish us.  The “fruit” or yield [activities] of such a faith exceeds the real “work of faith” because such work is done out of self-interest, for selfish gain, for self-preservation.  Therefore such work is not done out of love, for “love does not seek its own” [1 Cor. 13:5], that is, it is not self-seeking or selfish.  That such works, devoid of love, are not truly good or fulfilling of God’s law is plain and evident, for “love is the fulfilling of the law.” [Rom. 13:10] Anything devoid of love is NOT “fulfilling the law,” and therefore cannot be good.

The other faith grasps the selfless and unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus. There are no “IFS” in this faith in God, only the reality that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” to be “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world,” so that “whoever believes in Him has everlasting life.” This faith acknowledges that “while we were sinners Christ died for us,” and that “by grace you are saved through faith, and this, not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, NOT of works, lest anyone should boast.” [Eph. 2:8,9]  This faith acknowledges, “in this is love, not that we loved Him, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the blood atonement for our sins.” [1 John 4:10] The fruits of this faith, which are the real “work of faith,” are motivated entirely by this love of God and are done out of the recognition and realization that God’s love has made it so that nothing else is required of us – “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” [1 Jn. 4:11] God’s love, not threat, is the only motivation.

So Paul moves on from commending this “work of faith” to their “labor of love” – which we understand cannot come from the first kind of “faith,” that which has “IFS” and therefore has self-interest as its motivation and therefore cannot truly be “love.” So, those of the first “faith” cannot be commended for their faith – it is false and unfruitful in love, incapable of generating love; rather, he commends those who have true faith based in God’s great love for us [no “IFS” or conditions], and the real labor of love that flows from such genuine Christian faith. That this is His intent is evident when he finally commends their “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Those who think that their own work and labors commend them to God “hope” in these works, and in themselves, and NOT “in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Those who know they have no hope other than in the unconditional love and salvation God has lovingly provided for us in Christ Jesus, steadfastly maintain such “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is Christian faith, and only this faith yields love for God and love for one another, and hence good works which truly fulfill the law.

This is the essential difference between Christianity and all other “religion.” Obviously, never the twain shall meet; they are entirely different kinds of faith, and yield entirely different kinds of fruit. May God grant each of us true and genuine faith in His love, in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we may similarly be commended for our “work of faith, labor of love, and steadfast hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, thanks and praise be to You for Your selfless and unconditional love for us, by which You became the blood atonement for our sins and have assured us that whoever believes in You has everlasting life. Strengthen and keep us in this faith, that the real fruits and labors of love may truly abound in our lives as we hope in You alone. Amen.