Links Daily Devotional

Three Foundations 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)

Forgive me for not moving on from the verse we highlighted yesterday. Sometimes I need to work on my lag putting two days in a row, and sometimes we need to camp on a Scripture until we get a full sense of its value to us.

As we saw yesterday, sanctification—that process by which we join God in the work he is doing in us to conform us to his nature—involved for the Thessalonians three notable elements: work (day-to-day business), labor (intense toil), and endurance (the willingness to hang in there over the long haul of life).

Because sanctification is the work God is doing in and through us, we want to stay committed to it in action and in motivation.But when we assess 1 Thessalonians 1:3 a second time, we should also see that Paul listed foundational traits beneath each of these elements. These believers had allowed faith to produce their work, love to prompt their labor, and hope to inspire their endurance. Let’s consider these one by one.

“Work produced by faith.” It can be easy to lose sight of why we do what we do. At such times, we may grow discouraged and even consider giving up. When this work is kingdom work, the consequences of abandoning our work would be bad not only for others but for those the Father has given into our care. So we must be driven by faith that the work God has given us is indeed the work he wants us to do. My daily work and yours may be different, but we each must believe that the work, if granted to us by God, in meaningful to him and to those he wishes to bless through it. If you’re having trouble finding purpose in your work, ask yourself, “Do I truly believe this is work God has given me?”

“Labor prompted by love.” There are not many things that cause me to stick with toil. It’s dirty, it’s tiresome, and it wears me out. Think childcare. And then think about the love that drives you to do important things for your children or grandchildren even when you must work hard. In the same way, we will do difficult things for God—and for those he has placed before us for the purpose of ministry—out of love for him and the love he gives us for others. If you’re having trouble toiling at a difficult task, ask yourself, “Is my love for Christ stoked as it should be?”

“Endurance inspired by hope.” This foundational connection may be the most obvious, for few of us would stick out any work over months and years of challenge unless we had hope that the process would produce a wonderful outcome. Stories of unheralded collegiate golfers who have lasted through the grind of the mini-tours and eventually reached the PGA or LPGA Tour give us a sense of how hope works. Now accelerate that hope to eternal life with Christ and you get the idea. There is no greater hope to keep us clicking along in the process of being conformed to the image of Christ, no matter how demanding or relentless the work. If you’re having trouble persevering in Christ, ask yourself, “Am I allowing the hope of one day being with Jesus to keep me energized and willing to do God’s work again today?”

Because sanctification is the work God is doing in and through us, we want to stay committed to it in action and in motivation. We want to receive words of affirmation and encouragement like those Paul gave to the Thessalonians. We want to hear from Jesus himself, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Jeff Hopper
May 24, 2016
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