Links Daily Devotional

Three Elements of Sanctification

We continually 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. (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV)

This isn’t much of an admission, but when my golf magazines arrive each month, there is one variety of articles I spend little time reading. I like the material about courses and travel. I’m intrigued by interviews with players that give us insight into their thinking on the course and a look at some of their interests away from the game. I keep refreshed on the rules, with the quizzes and scenarios discussed in those articles.

We are not capable of doing this work on our own any more than a beginner can make sense of the golf swing without a teacher.So what’s left? What don’t I read so much? The instructional articles. I suppose I am forever unconvinced that “two quick tips” or “three simple drills” are going to stir the secret sauce that changes my game overnight.

Humorously, this may be a question of theology, where golf and life run headlong into each other once again. Surely, we can agree that improvement in golf and improvement in one’s Christian walk do not come quickly. Both demand commitment, action, and perseverance.

In Paul’s opening notes in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he wanted to extol the excellence these believers were displaying in the outworking of their lives. In fact, there was much positive encouragement to give them. And almost immediately, we see him praising them for the steadiness of their sanctification.

Sanctification, though certainly a theological word, is one that many who walk with Christ are already familiar with. If you’re not, today is a good day to learn that sanctification is the process whereby we join with God in his work in our hearts and minds to conform us to his nature. We are not capable of doing this work on our own any more than a beginner can make sense of the golf swing without a teacher, but we are responsible to commit to and practice the things the Lord calls us to do in obedience to him.

This is why Paul used the words work, labor, and endurance in recognizing what the Thessalonians were up to. (A note: In the Greek, the word Paul used for work specifies specific tasks—what one is busy doing—while the word he used for labor means literally “a beating” and implies hard toil.) The Thessalonians weren’t cruising in their faith; they were purposeful about it and committed to the end.

As you walk out your faith in Christ from this day until the end of your life, you’ll do so in a praiseworthy fashion when you get up each day, day after day, and pray, “Lord, what will you have me do to honor you today? I am ready and willing to give it my all.” Then go to work.

Jeff Hopper
May 23, 2016
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