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“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.
But the greatest of these is love.” — 1 Corinthians 13:13
Faith and hope are inherently tied together in the life of a Christian. The Hebrew writer says “faith is being sure of what he hope for and certain of what we do not see.” For the follower of Christ, the two cannot be separated. Faith and hope live together and will die together. Yes, faith and hope will die. Like the gifts of prophecy and knowledge, when perfection comes faith and hope will be laid to rest in a big coffin marked “no longer needed.”
I remember how much I wanted a bicycle when I was little. I didn’t know how to ride a bike, nor had I ever been on one, but I desperately hoped for one. I was positive I’d enjoy it. And I was pretty confident I’d be successful in learning to ride it. Then one year for my birthday, I got my first bicycle. It was incredible. I finally had the bike I’d always wanted, and I could ride it. On that day, I no longer hoped to get a bike, because I had one. I no longer dreamed of riding a bike, because I was riding one.
But that bicycle had training wheels. I was sure that in time I could learn to ride without those wheels — I mean they were way smaller than the others, how much could they really be helping me anyway? I wanted nothing more than to ride like a big boy. And after only a few weeks of bumps, bruises, and band-aids, I was a big boy. I no longer needed training wheels. Nor did I need faith to believe I could ride with only two wheels. I was doing so every day. And so, my hopes turned towards a BB gun. And later a car. And still later a paycheck.*
Today, I know how to shoot a gun. I drive a stick every day. I still ride a bike. And I’ve received a lot of paychecks — not very big ones, but paychecks all the same. I’ve always had faith my employer would give me a paycheck. But once I received said paycheck, I no longer needed faith. I had the cash in my own two hands. Of course I hoped and confidently expected there would be another check in two weeks. But when I held that one in my hands, faith and hope again disappeared.
“Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?
…But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”
— Romans 8:24-25
It’s hard for us to imagine a time in which we’ll have no faith. It’s difficult for us to envision hoping for absolutely nothing. Because every time our faith is realized on this earth, we immediately put it in something else. Every time we gain that which we hope for, we begin hoping for the next item, model, or experience.
But when the kingdom comes in its fullness, we’ll possess all we could ever hope for. We will have received what is the end of our faith. We’ll be glorified with God in heaven, and no faith or hope will be required. We will have received all that is of value. It’s impossible to be certain of what we don’t see, when we’re standing face to face with it.
Faith and hope will cease to exist, and we should be exceedingly glad this is the case. But love remains. It always will. That’s why love is the greatest of these three. Tongues and prophecy, knowledge and evangelism, leadership and teaching, faith and hope — all will disappear when perfection comes, never to be seen again in heaven or on earth.
But love… there will be love. And I’m gonna’ take my shoes off and run around in it like it’s the greenest and most lush grass I’ve ever seen. And I’ll never hope for another thing.
* Actually, this is misleading. I sound confident my desire for a car came before my desire for a paycheck, but I’m not sure this was the case. You know it’s a vicious cycle for a teenager. He wants a job, so he can save enough cash to buy a car and pay for insurance and gas. But he needs a car so he can go to work. What’s a guy to do? Nevertheless, while I’m not sure which one I wanted first, I am positive the paycheck came long before the car.
**This post is the last in a series on love from chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians. You can find other posts here: