2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We 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.
Paul begins his letter to the Thessalonians by praising and encouraging them. He takes a moment to praise them for the obvious evidence of their salvation that they were demonstrating. As always it is important to say that he was not saying that they earned their salvation through doing "good works" but rather he was commending them that their works gave credence to and verified the reality of their faith in God and His redeeming work in their lives.
He commended them that their faith produced good work. The reality is that a true saving belief in Jesus will always result in God changing us from the inside out. As the forgiven and redeemed we choose to engage in deeds that honor God and our new life, choosing to be dead to the old way of living. The truth is that this spiritual transformation is a process, which is why Paul has to write to them because they were mixing some of the old ways of life with the new life in Christ, but having been declared fully righteous before God we must walk out that declaration in a process of spritual growth or sanctification. Literally working out our salvation, not working for our salvation.
Paul also commended them for another mark of salvation and that was their love that showed itself in taking action. They were motivated to do what they did because of love. True Christians minister from a motivation of love for others not from a place of guilt or pure obligation. Having experienced God's love we find that we love others and are motivated to love them as Christ loved us. Loving God, loving God's people and loving the unbelievers should lead us to action - it should lead us to REACH UP, IN & OUT! To reach up to God, to reach inward to God's people and to reach outward to unbelievers.
Paul also commended them on their perseverance in believing in Jesus in spite of the persecution and opposition that they faced. They persevered because their hope was in Christ and knowing that He would one day see Him again and receive their eternal inheritance.
The question I continually ask myself is, "Does my life reflect the evidence of my salvation?"
Will someone who observes my life commend me for my faith that produces good work, my love that shows itself in reaching up, in and out; and my unwavering belief in God and that what He says He will do, HE WILL DO!