Pentecost 20, Proper 24, Year A
Deacon Cindy Roehl
In our readings this morning the Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians the words, “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There are three specific phrases I want to go through with you this morning.
Your work of Faith.
Your labor of love.
Your steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s start with the phrase, “your WORK of faith”. So, what is our work of faith? Well, first, it is NOT the performing of a certain task or doing particular good deeds. They would be good deeds, of course, but these deeds are the result of our faith. Because of our faith, we do good work.
Sometimes we use the word ‘faith’ so often that it might be worth our while to pay attention to what it means. Some synonyms for the word “faith” are: trust · belief · confidence · conviction · reliance. And as a result of our faith in Christ (our trust in Him, our belief in Him, our confidence, conviction and reliance on Him) this work just naturally flows. And then we have the phrase “your LABOR of love”. At first these two phrases might sound like the same thing, but they are not.
WORK is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. A good result, of course. But LABOR is more difficult work requiring greater effort. It could be mental or physical, but requires more perseverance and energy. Something that you may not normally expend the effort for, but love pushes you. Have you ever done something for someone that went beyond your usual desire or ability, requiring more discipline and effort than you would normally ever do, but for that person, you do it? Why? Because you love them.
And when you experience God’s presence in your lives, His love flows through you, enabling you to do more than you would ever consider in the natural. You find you love people you may not have loved before, and you want to help them. You go out of your way and you exercise greater effort because this person has a need, and you are there. And as you experience God’s love flowing through you to that person, you experience this gift of loving effort on behalf of this person, and you persevere…
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