“FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE ABIDE”
What a remarkably challenging letter Paul wrote to Corinth. It is essential we keep it all in context. Some of the early chapters show there was considerable disharmony among the believers there. Today we saw how ch. 13 ends by telling us, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Human numbering has made 13 very significant here! A verse to be remembered. So there are 3 things that were to abide, while other things would not, they “will pass away” [v.10] such as tongues, “they will cease” [v.8]
Members had no Bibles to refer to, the gospels were only then being written and then hand copied for circulation. Early church records show the Psalms were especially valued and some memorized them all and could go around reciting them. We do not have to memorize things today, or very little, and we are the poorer for this. What fills the minds of people today – and therefore their hearts? But make this question personal – my mind – my heart?
Now consider the 3 things Paul said would not – or should not – pass away! These are the 3 things it is essential for us to have – if they are lacking then our way of life in serving Christ is doomed. The world around us lacks them, they have no faith in anyone, well, certainly not the politicians! They live for the here and now more and more as any hope in the future is increasingly bleak – and - do not people really only love – themselves!
Let us now focus our thoughts on the future. There is an important thing we may not fully realize. “Faith and hope” will not abide! Why? Because they will no longer apply. Faith is needed in that which is unseen: how tellingly Peter expresses this, look at 1 Peter 1 v.8,9. But faith and hope will not abide then for the simple reason faith will be turned to sight and hope will be realized, the future will have become the present!
So love will be the guiding principle for those blessed to be in God’s kingdom – truly – “the greatest of these is love” – may it rule in our hearts more and more each day.
And a final note: in a couple of weeks we will come to Psalm 136 which tells us – no less than 26 times that God’s “steadfast love endures for forever” so “give thanks to the God of heaven” (last verse) with all your heart. .