Faith, hope, love the greatest virtues

Most agree that one of the greatest chapters in the inspired Scriptures and in all literature is the 13th chapter of the First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. This chapter is such a literary masterpiece it is worthy of being read again and again. Christian love, the prominent feature of Christianity, is the subject of these verses. For better appreciation, this chapter should be read in a modern translation of the Bible which makes very clear, God's definition of love.

But, it is the last verse of this chapter (verse 13) that is especially significant. A modern language translation puts it like this: "Three things will last forever - faith, hope, and love - and the greatest of these is love."

Faith, hope, and love, are the great trinity of virtues for the Word of God tells us they are superior to all others. Their superiority lies in the simple fact that God knows they result in the greatest degree of inner peace and happiness for mortal souls. One of the surprising things we learn in this verse is that love is even greater than faith. In all religious discussions we hear much about faith, but unique to the Christian religion, love is esteemed superior to faith. One reason for this is that love is a verb while faith is a noun. Not to diminish the importance of faith, it is obvious that it is easier to profess faith without truly having it, than love for love never allows for mere profession but must be demonstrated. That is the whole purpose of the chapter which describes how love behaves in very practical terms. And so, if you have the courage to test whether your love is genuine, read this chapter.

But the point in discussing the virtues of faith, hope, and love, is that in these days, we are probably more desperate for hope than either faith or love. It is a gloomy atmosphere in today's world and even a faint glimmer of hope is hard to find. A heavy despair seems to be the universal and common mood of the day even among the very young. With anguish we read of the shocking high suicide rates among our children and college students. If you are a Christian, you can pray like David in Psalm 39:7, "My hope is in You."

If you are not a Christian, you need to ask yourself, is there any reason or dependable source for hope? If our hope is only in this present world and the present life, we are on shaky ground for material and temporal things have proven to this generation to be fickle and utterly uncertain. The Scripture has been given and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became incarnate in human form that all men might have a solid basis for hope. Not just in this present world but for a glorious resurrection and the blessed world to come.

Pastor Gene Holman of Living Word Fellowship is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.


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