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What's left when everything else is stripped away? At the end of 1 Corinthians
13, Paul says there are three remaining things: faith, hope and love. Paul
uses those three words in one verse in three other places. To him, they
were the triumverant of the Christian virtues.
Though intertwined, Paul distinguishes their functions in 1 Thes. 1:3.
He wrote, "We continually 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."
Faith produces good works. Paul could not imagine faith without works.
If a person believes something, it will lead to action. James would later
comment that a faith without works is dead. Strong beliefs lead to strong
Love leads to labor. The word Paul uses for labor is different from
the word he uses for works. There is pain involved in the word-a sense
of weariness. Faith may prompt people to do good deeds, but only love compels
them to continue to work when it is painful or unpleasant.
Hope, according to Paul, inspires endurance-the ability to keep going
when the effort surpasses an acceptable threshold of pain and threatens
to destroy the spirit. Hope sees better days ahead. It muffles the voices
of those who say "give up" and whispers encouragement to the downtrodden.
Hope says, "yes you can," when others say, "no you can't." Hope completes
an action that faith begins and love compels.
In Col. 1:5, Paul teaches that faith and love spring from hope, he wrote,
"the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you
in heaven . . ." Where does the hope come from? In the last part of that
verse, he said it comes from "the gospel."
Don't let anyone take your hope away. Don't lose hope! Instead, marinate
your soul in the gospel. It will produce hope, and hope will produce faith
and love-the very things you need to live out the demands of the gospel
in your life.
Read the sermon
that corresponds to this devotional.