“And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” (Revelations 2:3)
Twice he emphasizes their labour and patience: here and in the prior verse. The church in the beginning was a hard laboring people who also had the ability to endure patiently the hardships and persecutions.
- “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.” (Matthew 20:1)
- “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)
- “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
- “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal 6:9)
- “In your patience possess ye your souls.” (Luke 21:19)
But it is important to note: he emphasizes their labor, but does not make any mention of it being a “labor of love.” But the labor of the church started out as a labor of love!
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-4)
“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end” (Hebrews 6:10-11)
God does not forget a labor of love – but he does have something against those who no longer do what they do – for love.
“Nevettheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love.” (Revelations 2:4)
Yes, a difficult labor can actually be in vain, if we lose our love for: the Lord, his people, his work, and the lost souls that he died for.
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Phillipians 2:14-16)
“For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.” (1 Thessalonians 3:5)