Revelation 2 and 1 Thessalonians 1 contain the story of two churches. One was in Ephesus, and one was in Thessalonica. Both churches were recognized in a similar fashion. They were both recognized specifically for their works, labor, and patience (enduring). Both churches could have had commended their church members for their exemplary service. Both churches were busy for the Lord. They both labored. They were both on the go! However, only one of them had not changed.
Let’s take a closer look at the two passages of Scripture:
Thessalonica:"Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"
Ephesus: "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."
The church at Ephesus had left their first love. They did not even know it. It took Christ to point that out to them. Just because we pat ourselves on the back for our work, our labor, and our patience does not mean that we are on the right track. That is not what makes the difference. It is deeper than that. It takes more than meets the eye. We see that the church at Thessalonica had a “work of faith,” a “labor of love,” and a “patience of hope.”
Maybe you are a Christian who has lost something in your service for the Lord. There is something missing in your life and service like there was at the church in Ephesus. Oh sure, you might say, “I have worked and labored. I have been patient. Of course I am doing well!” Perhaps it has escaped you that you have lost the same three needful qualities that Ephesus lost—faith, love, hope.
How do you know something is missing?
You have lost your love. Sure, you work, but it is now out of duty, and not out of a sense of love for the Saviour. How do you know something is not the same? Your faith has waned. You stopped expecting God to do something amazing! How do you know that you have left something behind in your service? You serve without hope. Hope simply means "expectation" or "to anticipate with pleasure."
Special soulwinning days and events in the church are not planned so that someone else can work for God, it is so that I can work for God. You see, the love, the faith, the hope—they make it personal! The work is not personal for you if you are just thinking about someone else getting involved!
Maybe your attitude is like many Christian workers, staff members, and pastors that I meet. “If I have to do it, the staff has to do it. If I have to do it, the members have to do it. If I have to do it, so does everyone else!” You have taken your eyes off the Saviour and put them on man!
What is God’s solution?
I love this part, because God’s solutions are always practical and simple to understand! The solution is found in Revelation 2:5–remember! Revelation 2:5, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
Have you ever lost your car keys? Your car may have a powerful engine, a sound system with a radio or CD changer, and some even have a DVD player. The vehicle may have an air conditioner, a navigation system, power windows, heated seats and more. But it is all for naught without the key! If you are missing the key, the fancy extras are all wasted. In much the same way, your service for the Lord may have work, labor, and patience. But without the love, faith, and hope, you are missing the key! Doesn’t it feel good when you have lost your keys and then you find them? How do you find them? You go back in your mind, and you remember where you put them. Oh, happy day!
Let’s take a look back today. Let’s remember. This is not just a nostalgic trip to take up some precious time. This is a chance to remember. This is a chance to go back in our minds and remember where we put the keys down! Pause this moment and remember His goodness, remember the service. Remember the faith, love, and hope we used to have! What has taken your passion? What has taken your affection? Where have they gone? Let’s reclaim them today!
Take a moment to remember the miracles—this brings FAITH.
Take this chance to remember the people—LOVE.
Take a moment to remember the obstacles you have overcome in your Christian life—HOPE.
I read with interest a story about a woman living in Switzerland who nearly starved herself to death. She ate only one meal a day. She was living in a rat-infested home when she was found. She was extremely ill and was taken to the hospital. Unfortunately she was not found her in time, and the doctors could not save her. She had starved herself to death and died of malnutrition. The authorities tried to find out who she was. They found some information in her home—her name, a checkbook account that had $300,000 in it, and the key to a safety deposit box that contained $1.25 million. She was a millionaire, but she lived like a pauper! She was living beneath her means!
When you decide to live without faith, love, and hope you are living an empty life. It is a service of comparison instead of compassion. You ask, “Are they doing it?” instead of considering the fact that there is a great need. It is a service of emptiness instead enthusiasm. It is a service of ritual instead of a relationship with Christ. Get back to the first works! Reclaim the faith, love, and hope that once characterized your service.