March 2 – Motivation for Ministry

March 3, 2020 Randy Bushey

~by Randy Bushey

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

If you wanted to learn about hockey, wouldn’t you benefit from having a first-hand peek into the training regimen of Sidney Crosby?

If you love pop music, wouldn’t you value an opportunity of observing Paul McCartney write a pop song?

And if you’re good at cooking, witnessing Gordon James Ramsey up close would inspire you to new heights of creativity in the kitchen.

Our review of the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians gives us a unique opportunity to eavesdrop as the Apostle Paul engages in something in which he was the undisputed world-class expert: prayer.

I’m always stunned when I read his prayers, contrasting Paul’s rich prayers to my own anemic requests and issues; but therein lies an obvious opportunity to raise my game; to bring my prayer-life more in alignment with his example and petition content.

In his short prayer summary in verse 3 above, Paul is praying about – and thanking the Lord for – the motivation to ministry demonstrated by these recent converts to Christ from Thessalonica.

Their service comes from hearts that demonstrate 3 characteristics: faith, love, endurance.

Here’s what Paul says: We continually remember before our God and Father

1) your work produced by faith; their new-found faith has compelled these Christ-followers to work in the service of their Master.

2) your labour prompted by love; consequently, these believers eagerly engaged in Gospel-furthering labour. (The original Greek text suggests wearying toil.)

3) your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ; they stubbornly refused to give up. Various Bible translations use the terms patience, persistent, or steadfastness in place of endurance – but you get the idea. The original language gives the image of a person not easily thrown off course. And the reason for this persistence, endurance and stick-to-itiveness is the confident hope and certainty of salvation and abundant, eternal life that these young believers had in the One who had given them salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ.

They were committed for the long haul, because their eyes were fixed on Christ, the ultimate example of completing the task before Him.

Consequently, this instruction from the writer of Hebrews: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).

Takeaway: the love language of the Lord Jesus is obedience and the pursuit of righteousness. That is evidenced in service to Him by serving other believers. Am I a servant in that way? Would my service be missed if I were suddenly removed?

Is my motivation for ministry legitimate? Paul calls on us not to serve for reasons of guilt, or because nobody else will do it; but rather to serve others because of our faith and love in Christ, and to be compelled by Him to persist and endure – to follow through on that which I begin.

 

~ graphic by Patwise, freeimages.com