Lord's Day Liturgy

A Working Reputation

Paul had thankfulness syndrome. At least some people might think that. His thankfulness wasn’t really a problem, but it was profuse.

One of Paul’s first letters was to the church of the Thessalonians. He came out of the gate with his gratitude: “We give thanks to God always for all of you” (verse 2). The Thessalonians received the word of the gospel (verse 6), they imitated those who brought the gospel, and in doing so became examples to believers in their region (verse 7). They had a reputation “everywhere” (verse 8).

As one of your shepherds, I am thankful for similar signs among us and I’m devoted to this being even more true of our flock as well. What goes into it?

Last week I referred to reverence, repenting, and rejoicing. From 1 Thessalonians 1:3 let me add another trifecta. The two different threes aren’t competing; all are yours.

Paul was giving thanks as he remembered “before our God and Father [their] work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 3).

The typical three virtues are faith, hope, and love (as written to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 13:13). Here these spiritual virtues are in a different order and they are attached to activity. Three verbal nouns: work, labor, steadfastness.

Truth turned them from idols to serve the living and true God (verse 9). Doing the word belongs with hearing the word, and then faith and love get to work, with hope giving strength and stamina. It leads to a working reputation.

You are doing these, and do these more and more (4:1, 10).