We’ve been looking closely at the influences we have in our lives, both from and on others. We’ve looked at influence in the workplace and everyday lives, the influences we have and receive at home, and we’ve looked at our spiritual families and the way we impact them. As we wrap up, we’re going to look at the hope we demonstrate in our lives and how that impacts the influence we give and receive.
I Thessalonians 1 opens this letter with Paul praising the positive and hopeful influence that congregation had on others. Think of the encouragement this opening would be to those in Thessalonica, how they would continue their faith, hope, and love because they knew those qualities were positively impacting others around them. Paul encouraged this congregation with their own encouragement.
Faith, Hope, and Love
A work of faith, a labor of love, and the patience of hope — these qualities are so powerful, and they will help us grow relationships and attitudes that will increase the positive influences in our lives. We share God’s word with others because we love His word and we love those around us. It is a labor of love, and that love makes all the difference between bringing others closer to Christ or pushing them away.
Yes, there were times when Paul would warn and even condemn, but these times were motivated by love and based on a close relationship where that love was never under question, even if it had to be tough love. We all know that love sometimes requires difficult conversations, but those conversations are easier when we all know we are putting each other first, when we are putting hope first, when we are focusing on faith before ourselves.
Later in the book, Paul talks about what a great encouragement the Christians in Thessalonica have been to him, and the application for us is this: are we living in such a way that we increase hope or remove hope? In I Peter 2:11–12, Peter reminds us to stay away from world-centered passions but rather remain focused on above, helping others see Christ’s hope in each of us.
What does this look like? Do my actions, my words, my conduct, and my behavior on social media reflect spiritual hope? How do I behave around my spiritual family or my physical family? A life of hope does not get bogged down in the problems of this world. A life of hope trusts God and finds peace in Him regardless of other storms. A life of hope gets up after a fall and propels me to labor in love, to live in hope, and to patiently work with others in life that glorifies our Lord and Savior.
lesson by Donn Koonce