A preacher was teaching the men's Sunday school class on the subject of the Ten Commandments. When he discussed "Thou Shalt Not Steal" a man on the front row became noticeably distracted and agitated. The preacher went on. When he to "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery," the fidgety man relaxed and started paying attention again. The preacher saw the man after class and asked if anything was wrong.
"Oh, no, Preacher, it's all right. When you mentioned the one about stealing, I got upset because I thought somebody had taken my umbrella, but when you got to the other one about adultery, I remembered where I left it."
Every time we watch the news, it seems that we are presented with the sad truth that virtuous character means little in our culture today. There seems to be few national role models.
A recent survey of Americans shows that our stated beliefs and our behaviors are often two very different things. We claim to disbelieve horoscopes, yet we still read them. We believe in the relevance of the Ten Commandments, but the poll shows that most Americans are very selective in obeying those commandments. We believe in the Bible, yet most Americans are biblically illiterate B unable to list even the four gospels. There is obviously a large gap between what we say we believe and what we actually practice.
This was not so of the believers at the church in Thessalonica.
v. 3 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ . . ."
The Thessalonians were an example for us in Christian virtues. Are you expressing your faith in faith works? Or have you chosen the excuse: "Let the other fellow do it?" Are you laboring out of selfless love in all that you do or do you find yourself serving others in order to manipulate them?
Is your hope secure in a world which seems very insecure? The question this morning is not weather you have the virtues of faith, hope and love in your life, but what is the quality of these virtues? Is your faith characterized by good deeds? Is your love characterized by laboring on the behalf of others? Is your hope characterized by patient endurance?