“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.” – 1Thessalonians 1:2-3 (ESV)
We are 120 days past the first stay-at-home order and Louisiana Baptists have published the mid-year Cooperative Program contributions report. As I read over it, Paul’s noble expression to the Thessalonica saints came to mind and I gave thanks to God for His people in Louisiana. These three phrases describe the response of Louisiana Baptist churches and members to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Work of faith – One question that arose in the minds of many at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was, “How will we survive financially?” It was a question posed by families, churches, and businesses, at every level. It would be understandable if people would tighten their belts and conserve their resources. The domino effect of such a response would be the ministries and missions of local churches, associations, state and national conventions would be greatly affected. But by in large people continued to give graciously as a testimony of their faith in God. There have been adjustments, and most are down some financially, but due to the faithfulness of God’s people, ministry has continued unabated.
Labor of love – The gracious giving of God’s saints testifies, not only to their faith in Him, but their love for Him. They love God and God’s people and thus give to support ministry at home. But they also love people abroad and thus give to support missionaries in other lands. In both cases, their giving is a labor of love for God and people that helps fulfill the two great commandments.
Steadfastness of hope – Christians give during difficult times because their hope is focused on God rather than temporal things. Sometimes believers lose their focus and become consumed with immediate crises, resulting in anxiety fueled by self-reliance. Thankfully, this has not been the response of Louisiana Baptist believers. They have demonstrated a resolute hope in eternal God and a refusal to be distracted by a temporary crisis.
I am thankful to God for Louisiana Baptist churches. Some are larger than others, but each is valued. Some give more than others, but each gift is important. Every church’s investment is vital to fulfill the task God has given us. Thank you, Louisiana Baptists! We are indeed, better together!