1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…
The leading graces of Christianity are "faith, hope, and charity." On these all other graces essentially depend; so that where these are, there will all others most assuredly be found. But of all these graces there are counterfeits: there is "a faith that is dead;" there is "a love which is dissimulation;" and there is "a hope of the hypocrite that perisheth." Such, however, were not the graces which had been exercised among the Thessalonians: in them the apostle had seen —
I. AN ACTIVE FAITH. True faith is active: it brings to the Christian's view the Lord Jesus Christ, as having in Him a fulness of all imaginable blessings treasured up for the use of the Church; just as the vine has in its root and trunk that sap of which all the branches partake, and by which they are nourished. Faith, moreover, brings the Christian to Christ for daily supplies of those blessings which his various necessities require. And having received communications of grace according to his necessities, he is stirred up by it to improve them to the glory of his Redeemer's name. In a word, whatever the Christian has to do for God, he does it through the operation of this principle, by which, and by which alone, he overcomes the world, and purifies his heart. This faith St. Paul had seen in his Thessalonian converts; yea, so eminently had it shone forth in them, that they were celebrated for it in almost every Church throughout the Roman empire, and were held forth as patterns and ensamples of it to all the Christian world.
II. A LABORIOUS LOVE. Love is that fruit by which, above all, the truth and reality of faith will be discerned. It is by this, above all, that we can assure ourselves, or be known to others, as faithful followers of Christ. If we have it not, all else that we can have is of no value. But love is a laborious grace: it is always seeking for something which it may do either for God or man. It cannot endure to be idle. Whether it can do little or much, it delights to be doing what it can. Nor is it diverted from its pursuit by slight obstacles; no — like the water obstructed by the dam, it will overcome them, and will evince its strength and ardour in proportion to the difficulties that impede its exercise. Love is a self-denying grace; and where it exists in due measure, it will prompt a man not only to sacrifice ease and interest, but even to lay down his life itself for the brethren. This grace was so conspicuous in the Thessalonian converts, that St. Paul judged it quite unnecessary to write to them on the subject: they were so taught by God Himself respecting all its duties and offices, that he could add nothing to them, but only to exhort them to abound more and more in the conduct which they had already pursued.
III. A PATIENT HOPE. Hope is the offspring of faith and love, or at least of that faith which worketh by love. St. Paul calls it "hope in our Lord Jesus Christ," because "in Him all the promises of God are yea and amen." It is a patient grace, leading us to expect all that God has promised, however long we may have to wait for it; and to fulfil all that God has required, to the utmost possible extent; and to suffer all that God has ordained us to suffer, in hope of a final recompense; and, finally, to continue in a constant course of well-doing, even to the end. Such was the hope which the Thessalonians had manifested, and in which they had greatly rejoiced even in the midst of all their afflictions.
(C. Simeon, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;