Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Importance of Faith, Hope, and Love

In that well known verse at the end of I Corinthians 13 Paul gives us the three eternal Divine qualities, the three Divine distinctives that are to be present in the life of one who truly believes.  And to the extent these are present in the lives of believers, they will be present in the life of the church of which they are a member.

These three Divine distinctives can be manifested in various ways, and we see them manifested in the life of two churches that Paul wrote to.  First, it was the Thessalonians.  In I Thessalonians 1:3 we see the activity of faith (work), the unction of love (labor), and the steady enduring of hope (waiting for Christ).  We also see them manifested in the church at Colossae.  In Colossians 1:3-5a we see the object of faith (Jesus Christ), the direction of love (toward all the saints), and the place of hope (heaven).  In two different churches we see the same qualities, but how they are manifested in each church was different....just as they are in the lives of individuals.

It is no accident that in both letters we see Paul commending the church, and rejoicing in thanksgiving for these two churches in his prayer for them.  Why?  Because a spiritually healthy church, a spiritually balanced church will be manifesting these eternal qualities, just as a spiritually healthy and spiritually balanced individual will be manifesting them.  Paul knew that these churches were spiritually healthy and robust, and therefore would be effective.  This is why he wrote what he did to the Colossians, so that they would stand fully assured in their faith (2:1-3, 4:12) and not be derailed by the false teachers; and why he wrote to the Thessalonians to not only keep doing what they were doing, but to excel in it still more.  In both of these letters you can see Paul wanting these churches to continue to grow in their faith, their hope, and their love.

Another example is the letter to the Hebrews, written with the goal of exhortation Hebrews 13:22 (speaking to the need of the moment).  These believers needed to be encouraged and strengthened in their faith, love, and hope.  In this epistle the author of Hebrews talks about the obedience of faith and the endurance of faith.  He talks about the confidence and assurance that hope brings, and how it is the anchor of our soul.  He talks about the encouragement in love that comes from gathering together, and how we should be stimulating one another (being a catalyst) to love and good deeds.

In I Timothy 1:5 Paul writes, "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience (which is directly connected to the assurance of hope) and a sincere faith."

So, fellow pastors, what is the goal of our instruction, our exhortation?  Should it not be in developing faith, love, and hope in the people under our care.  Should not the things we do, the prayers we pray, the activities that we engage in be to developing these eternal qualities in our people?  I sincerely believe that is why the Philippians were Paul's joy and crown, not just because of their aid to him, but because of the manifestation of faith, hope, and love he witnessed in them.  May the faith, hope, and love of our people be to us a great and glorious crown and the cause of our rejoicing in that day!

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