13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1Corinthians 13)
We looked at faith in the last post. Next among the big three is hope. What is hope?
23 —— we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8)
In a way hope is a subset of faith and so finds inclusion in the definition of faith in Hebrews 11. It is that subset which deals with the temporal challenge that man faces. He lives in time and has to deal with the uncertainty of the future while he wrestles with the present. Not only so, he finds within himself an eternal desire that yearns to defy the temporal limitations posed by the uncertainty of the future and eventually, death. It is herein that hope becomes for man a necessary ally, helping him to overcome the temporal challenge that life throws at him, in pretty much the same way that faith is necessary for him to overcome his finite physical limitations and connect with the unseen infinite.
Finally we come to love, which is generally understood by actions of love that man demonstrates for each other. A spouse’s love, a parent’s sacrificial love for the child, a child’s concern for his parent, a neighbor’s help for one in need and so on. The Bible teaches us that all this is indeed love but in reality a reflection of the love that is contained in the very character of God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1John 4)
‘God is love’ is probably the best definition of love because in love we do not really see some actions that are considered good, but the very nature of God. The character of God is what goodness is all about, his character forms the basis for love because without God there would be no love.
So now to the question as to why love is described as the greatest? Faith, hope and love are essential for man to exist in this world and live life meaningfully and productively. However, once man passes from this life, there wont be any need for either faith or hope. On the other hand, love will remain forever because it is the very essence of God and just as God is indestructible, love shall remain to the end and beyond.
- THE GREATEST IS LOVE-1
- KEEPING THE SABBATH