A long time ago, when I was a teenager, I had such a faith-love-hope necklace that I wore without realizing what it really meant. Maybe someone gave it to me, to be honest, I don't remember... Faith, hope and love... the conclusion of the 13th chapter in the first letter to the Corinthians.
These three elements keep coming back throughout the Bible and not too long ago my eye fell on a scripture that clearly mentions all three. Paul wrote a letter to the believers in Thessaloniki and in his introduction he says: We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). Beautiful, isn't it?
Paul has a tendency to write really long sentences, and sometimes that causes us to miss the point he wants to make. It often helps me to separate his sentences in small portions, a kind of schematic version of what he wants to say. I noticed when I read like that, the words stick with me. Yeah, I personally find it easier to learn with bullets, numbers and a,b,c's :) His introduction teaches me the following (and I hope you will see it too):
- My faith must produce work. Saying that I believe in God, means nothing if I have no fruit to prove it. The devil believes in God too. Faith produces works. James 1:22 says: Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
- My love must result in labor. In other words, the godly love that the Holy Spirit produces in my life should prompt me to act. This is not the cheap 'love' version the world promotes, wherein we LOVE pizza, the weather, the girl next door and the Lord... all in one word. No, this is supernatural love, the kind that prompts us to love our enemies and to be kind to the ones that are unlovable.
- My hope inspires endurance. The hope I have in Jesus Christ inspires me to go on where others stop. It inspires me not to give up and not to whine when things don't go my way. My endurance tells others something about the God I love.
Faith, hope and love... a marvelous theme to think about and act upon this week. Does this help you?