Next Global Online Service












Next Global Online Service

On Air


Christian virtue

Faith and works are like oil and water: they just don’t go together. At least, that’s what some of us have heard. Same goes for love and labor. We tend to associate love with spontaneous feelings and labor with dry duty. We first separate these ideas from one another, and then we elevate the importance of one over the other (though our preferences may vary). Finally, we either forget about the “unimportant” one, or we make it out to be a sort of enemy, as if duty could spoil love or love could cheapen duty.

But that’s not the way the Apostle Paul thought when he wrote to the Thessalonians. He said these words in 1 Thessalonians 1:2–3 (emphasis mine):

We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope are the fruits of the Thessalonian Christians’ changed lives. For them, faith, hope, and love were not just feelings in the heart—they were expressed in concrete, specific, visible ways that even got them into trouble at times.

Their faith worked, no doubt including things like serving orphans and widows, helping the poor, or showing hospitality to strangers. Their love labored; this would have involved strenuous self-sacrifice for the sake of other Christian brothers and sisters. Their hope remained steadfast even under the burdens of trial and temptation.

Nor were faith, hope, and love merely vague, spiritual sentiments. They were all about Jesus: faith that God had kept his promises in Jesus, love for others that flows from Christ’s greater love and points back to it, and hope that endures by looking forward to Christ’s return and the final resurrection.

Their Christian testimony was legendary, making an impact on the world around them and encouraging Christians by their example in other cities near and far (1 Thess. 1:7–8). In fact, we’re still talking about it today.

But here’s the thing about a good example. While at first it may inspire us, eventually it may expose our weakness. Inspiration may give way to disappointment when we fail and eventually perhaps even to jealousy or cynicism.

The Thessalonians didn’t set a good example merely by their willpower, though. They were loved and chosen by God, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In short, God’s grace moved them, and the same gracious Spirit works in us today.

It’s good to have a good example. It’s even better to be graced by God in such a way that we are assured of his love, even when we fall short of the example. What’s more, this same grace changes us through and through, empowering the Christian faith, hope, and love that changes the world.

Mike Wilkerson is the director of biblical counseling for Mars Hill and a pastor at the Ballard church.

It's All About Jesus

Jesus was a man who claimed to be God. Think on that for a minute. If that were true, how would it change the way you thought, felt, and lived this life?

At Mars Hill, we believe that Jesus is God. We take him at his word. Because of this, everything we do is all about Jesus. We invite you to learn more about this man who is God and how you can find forgiveness and new life in him.

Learn More Stories

Making Disciples

God reveals himself through us to others. Our priority is to make disciples who love God and love others well.

Learn More

Planting Churches

God works through his church to make disciples. Our commitment is to plant churches that love God and love others.

Learn More

What to Expect

Visiting a church for the first time can be nerve-racking. But having an idea of what to expect can help. There are three main parts to every Sunday service: preaching, worship, and kids. To learn more about each of these, click the links below.

The Mars Hill Guide Leadership at Mars Hill

We value community

Church is more than a service. It’s people living life together and helping one another throughout our cities to serve our cities. Each week, thousands of people at Mars Hill meet in hundreds of small communities to learn about God, pray, eat, laugh, and live. We call these Community Groups—and they’re the heart of our church.

Learn More About Community  Log In to The City

Teaching & Training

We provide a number of resources to help you grow as a disciple of Jesus. You’ll find videos on a number of topics and from various conferences. The Mars Hill Blog connects you to life around the church and personal growth. And Resurgence is a blog dedicated to helping you grow as a leader at home, work, and church.

Mars Hill Music

Mars Hill musicians write fresh music and rearrange timeless hymns for our worship services and recording. Explore Mars Hill Music.

Cheerful givers wanted

Jesus is the most generous person who ever lived. He gave his life so that we might live. As Christians, we give our time, talent, and money joyfully in response to Jesus’ generosity and to help more people meet Jesus.

Give Money Give Time

My Library beta

You can now save your favorite sermons, blog posts and Mars Hill content in one place!

To use My Library, you'll need to sign in or create an account.

Sign in / Sign up

My Notes

Did you know you can take notes while you stream our services on Sundays? You can view your notes at any time, and share them with anyone you choose.

To use My Notes, you'll need to sign in or create an account.

Sign in / Sign up