But now faith, hope, love, abide these three...
I Corinthians 13:13a
In this verse at the end of the love chapter in I Corinthians, Paul gives us the three Divine distinctives, the three essential qualities that mark the life of a believer. All three of these qualities are operative in the true Christian, and to the extent they are operative determines the quality and vitality and effectiveness of our spiritual lives. Also, it is the operation of faith, hope and love in our life that is the source of our joy, and it is the extent to which these qualities are operative in our lives that determine the fullness of our joy.
Additionally, these qualities do not operate in isolation from each other, but operate in conjunction with each other. Each directs, reinforces, and feeds the other. Faith is the foundation, love provides the motivation, and hope gives inspiration. As a cord of three strands is not easily torn apart (Ecclesiastes 4:12), so the Christian life that has faith, hope, and love stands strong against the perils of this world and the wiles of the devil.
Faith is the foundation, but without love faith becomes dry, barren, ritualistic, and formalized. Without love faith becomes a duty to be performed, not a life to be lived. Love gives strength and vitality to faith and makes faith come alive. Love gives purpose to faith. (I Corinthians 13:2b, Galatians 5:6, John 14:21, 23, I Peter 1:22)
Hope causes faith to persevere by giving it a reason to persevere. Hope directs faith's attention from the life here and now to the life hereafter. Hope gives faith its eternal perspective. Hope is faith's anchor during the storms of this life, its restraint to keep it from heeding the siren calls of this world, and its beacon to keep it on course. (Hebrews 6:19, 11:1, Galatians 5:5, I Corinthians 15:19, Colossians 1:5)
My friends, are these three essentials present in your life? If they are not, cry out to the Lord for Him to bring these into your life through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. If they are, seek to cultivate them all the more in order that your life in Christ may be full of His abundance and overflowing with His joy.