“… your labour prompted by love…”
1 Thessalonians 1:3
Writing first about work produced by faith, Paul now turns to labour prompted by love. Labour is a much more intense word than work. It involves putting greater effort into that which you are doing. A mother who is in labour is a mother expending great effort in delivering her child. Strenuous labour makes us weary, and leaves us wanting to stop and rest.
Paul is speaking in this letter about the labour of the believers in Thessalonica for the sake of the Lord Jesus. It was not easy to be a Christian in this city. Great opposition arose against the believers, and we can only imagine how exhausting and demanding it would be to persist in serving Christ. The persecution was so great that Paul was afraid they would give up their new life in Jesus just to relieve the pressure.
Paul heard that they had not given up their faith, but instead carried on in their labour for Christ because of their love for him. This love was so great that they refused to give up. They continued to labour for the gospel so that, “in spite of severe suffering they welcomed the message of the gospel with joy,” (1:6) and “they became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.” (1:7) Because of their love for him, they never became tired of speaking to others about their Saviour. Their love for Christ energized them daily in their labour for the Lord.
It is love for God that motivates us in the service of the Lord. If you do not love someone, you cannot serve them, for you will not find it in your heart to care for that person. But if you do love someone, you must love them unconditionally. The Lord Jesus gave the perfect example of unconditional love when he came to this world. He did not give his life on the cross because we were such wonderful people. Christ himself saw the hatred in the hearts of those who cried out, “Crucify him!” as he was led to the cross. And yet he prayed to the Father for them, saying, “Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
Christ’s love for us did not depend on the fact that we loved him in return, but Christ was determined to love us even though our condition was sinful. This is a love that we can never comprehend. It is Christ’s love for us that makes it possible to love God and to love our neighbour today. If there is no love in your heart for what Christ has done for you on the cross, then you will quickly grow weary in your service of the Lord. Without love for the Lord, you have nothing to energize you in God’s service. What will motivate you to serve God and to fight against the sin and evil in your heart if love for the Lord does not live in you?
If you know that God has loved you in such a wonderful way, then it will follow that you want to touch the lives of others with that love. Then you will not grow weary in doing good to those in need, and you will not grow weary in testifying to the greatness, grace and love of your Saviour, Jesus Christ. Love for your Saviour will prompt you to serve the Lord with your whole heart and life.