The Distinctives of a Christian
Reading to you 1 Thessalonians 1 and verse 3, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”.
You say, “What are the essential characteristics of a Christian’s life? What’s so special about a Christian? Is it the clothes he wears? Is it the fact that he says grace before his meals? Is it that he goes to church for service? Or is it that he has a Christian name? What is unique or special about a Christian?”
In the text that I have just read in 1 Thessalonians 1 and verse 3, I think we can boil it down to three things. You say, “What three things?”
I see that it is faith, love and hope; the work of faith, the labour of love, the patience of hope. Faith, love, hope. It is consistent with Scripture because 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity”.
What is faith? Faith is the belief that God is real, the belief that God is God. What is love? It is the love for God because He is real. And hope is that confident expectation that one day we will be with Him. And so what characterizes a Christian is that he has faith, he believes in the true and living God. Number 2, there is love; he really loves God. And number 3, he has hope; he confidently expects to be with God forevermore.
If I may put it this way, these three things reflect the root, the fruit and the look of a Christian. The root of a Christian is faith. You must have faith, without faith it is impossible to please God. It is that trust in God that is so important, but that faith being the root will one day manifest in love, which is the fruit. As we are anchored in God there will an expression of love unto His glory. And then the look of a Christian is the look of hope, looking unto Jesus, His second glorious coming for us. Those three things are the distinctive of a Christian life, faith, love and hope, the roots, the fruit and the look of a Christian.
May God remind you of this precious thing He has given in your life. God bless.