Faith Hope & Love are three great foundation stones of the Christian life. They were spoken about frequently by Jesus and his disciples, the greatest example of these virtues can be seen in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 Jn 4:10-11.
The bible tells us that we naturally live in rebellion against God. We live our lives the way we want to, instead of the way God wants us to. It may help to think of this rebellion as a spiritual ‘disease’, called sin. Without Jesus, who is the only ‘cure’ for sin, we will remain enemies of God because of our rebellion, and we are under his judgement. But God so loved the world that He sent Jesus to die on a cross to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him, if we turn from our rebellion.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians wrote;
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
To receive this gift of faith, we simply need to ask God for it, and believe that we have received it. However, faith is much more than just a miracle cure for the disease of sin; it is also the key to living the Christian life as the following illustration describes:
“There was once a Scotsman who rowed people across a river. On one oar he had carved the word ‘faith’ and on the other oar he had carved the word ‘works’. One day as he was rowing, one of the passengers noticed the carvings and asked him about them. The Scotsman did not reply but pulled in the oar marked ‘works’ and started to row with only one oar. The boat went round in circles. He then pulled in the oar marked ‘faith’ and started to row only with the ‘works’ oar. The boat again went round in circles, but this time in the opposite direction. He then rowed with both oars and reached the other bank safely. Before his passenger got off the boat he said, ‘A Christian must row his life using both oars, faith and works. Only then will he reach heaven’s shore
(Shenton, T. (2006). Opening up 1 Thessalonians. Opening Up Commentary (15–16). Leominster: Day One Publications)
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6
“Faith without works is dead” James 2:26, and true faith influences the heart and life so that we obey God and serve others. So let us decide to express our faith this year by serving our community, and sharing the gospel in love.
When grounded in God, hope provides the motivation to live the Christian life even in the face of trouble. Hope has been compared first to a soldier’s helmet, because it protects the mind, and then to the sailor’s anchor, because it steadies the heart on the stormy seas of life2.
When we are living by faith in God, we can trust that he will keep all his promises, and there are many!
For example, we can have hope in God that he will provide the physical needs of his people, when they “seek first His kingdom and his righteousness” Matthew 6:33. But, more than this, our hope in God extends to the promise of eternal life, lived in the presence of God. Saint John got a glimpse of the future and it is described in the book of Revelation;
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:3-4.
Hope in God helps the Christian endure hardships, especially when suffering for practicing their faith in a hostile environment.
Faith, Hope & Love are three great foundation stones of the Christian life, and the Apostle Paul wrote that the greatest of these is love. I would like to end my reading the bible’s description of love from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
This year, may we love as God loves us and gave himself up for us?