And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Thoughts for Today:Throughout Chapter Thirteen, Paul has been contrasting the difference between the gifts of the Spirit and God's kind of love (AGAPE). He has shown these gifts are temporary, yet love is eternal. In our passage today, Paul adds faith and hope to the "remaining" nature of love. In other words, like love they will also exist in heaven.
Some people have taken verses which are similar to our passage today, and rejected faith and hope as being inconsequential when compared to love. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Hebrews 11:6: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Faith is also connected to hope. Romans 5:1-2: "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God."
In our passage today, Paul wasn't making a comparison to love to dismiss the importance of faith and hope. And his comments earlier in the Chapter weren't meant to discredit those who were operating in the gifts. His sole purpose is to illustrate the value of love, not for us to minimize the importance of faith and hope, nor disregard the gifts of the Spirit.
Questions to Ponder:A person who lacks faith will not be able to love in the present because of an inability to forgive the hurts and sins of the past. And if a person lacks hope, they will also have difficulty with love in the present. Why? Because of worries and concerns about the future. Therefore, the only person who can truly love in the present is the one who has: 1) put their past behind them through the power of the Cross (faith); and 2) looks forward to their future because of the promise of heaven (hope). Power and promise equals faith and hope. Is any part of that equation missing in your life? How do you know? Are you having difficulty loving? If you are, take another look at Chapter Thirteen. What aspect of Paul's teaching do you need to embrace?