In 1 Corinthians, Paul describes various spiritual gifts and ways we can demonstrate Godly living in the world. He touches on the gift of tongues, prophecy with understanding, and faith that could move mountains. Yet somehow, he passes all of these things for just one thing: Love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 he says, “Three things will last forever: faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.” I have found myself skipping over this verse with a thought of “Yep, got that one down.” I have heard it and read it so often that I forget the application and power of it. What is this for? Why are these the things that last forever? The greatest power of our lives is contained in this verse. We just have the task of unfolding the purpose behind it in order to connect to it.
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The Purpose of Faith
Faith is one of the first things we learn about as Christians. It often starts with the quote from Jesus in Luke 17:6 where He says, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!” Hebrews 11:1 gives this clear definition of faith: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
I remember about a year after getting tattooed experiencing deep regret, almost mourning a part of myself being lost. I was barely 18 years old and working through some missed opportunities of my own personal development. In the shower I would see these tattoos and “wipe” them away along with a faithful prayer. I genuinely believed these Scriptures to be that I had the power and authority to believe something “as hard as I could” and it would be done, even if it meant defying the physical realm. I did this patiently for months before I started to lose hope and I began weeping to God. “Why! I truly believe you could take this from me! Why won’t you do it!?” I was hurt. Ten years later, the tattoos are still there, but I gained the most valuable lesson from this experience.
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"The purpose of faith is to lead us to know the heart of God..."
The purpose of faith is not to influence my own comfort. The purpose of faith is to lead us to know the heart of God and then trust His ways to guide us. It is practical exercise reminding us of our place on the vine. We are the branches, and we can do nothing apart from the vine (John 15:5). Hebrews 11:1 is a great definition of faith, but I believe Hebrews 11:6 gives us the life application of it. It states, “For we come to God in faith knowing that He is real and that He rewards the faith of those who passionately seek Him.” (TPT)
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The Purpose of Hope
Hope is defined by Google as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” It can also be defined as “a feeling of trust.” So faith is the belief that there is something better to seek, while hope is the expectation, or the certainty, that it is there. Hope is the fuel that keeps faith alive in our quest to find love.
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"Jesus is our model of constantly seeking wisdom."
The way that faith, which is the seeking of the Lord, connects with hope, which is the expectation of finding Him, is through wisdom. Proverbs 24:14 says, “In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short.” Jesus is our model of constantly seeking wisdom. Often in our spiritual development, we hit a place of complacency where we are good with what we have. It is a great thing to be grateful, but there is more for your life when you continually seek wisdom. At each level we should be graduating, moving, and growing, constantly adding to what we understand. This is what keeps hope alive. As we seek more, we learn more, and we store up confidence in who we are on the vine. In Luke 2:52 we get a subtle, yet powerful, picture of Jesus’ character that reveals the foundation of his influence and confidence. It says, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Jesus is our leader and we should follow his lead by constantly seeking wisdom and relationship with others.
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The Purpose of Love
Paul makes it very clear in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that the greatest of all spiritual gifts is love. Based on this, we know that love is the result that we see of our faith and our hope. Love is the goal. How wonderful is it to understand the goal! When you start a new game, the biggest hurdle is often obtaining an understanding more than physical limitations. If you understand the goal, you can use what you have to get there.
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"...it is the clearest picture of God that we have."
The purpose of love is evident in 1 John 4:7-8 that it is the clearest picture of God that we have. It states, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” It goes on to say in verse 19 that “we love because God first loved us.” So the purpose of love is twofold. First, it is revelation of identity. It tells us who God is and who we are in God.
Second, it is the very power that allows us to do the work of Jesus and even greater works as Jesus described in John 14:12. He says, “Whoever believes in me will also do the works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” Love has the power to help us believe again and restore hope in others. It is the engine that drives our spiritual lives.
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Faith, Hope, and Love: The Perpetual Cycle of Life
If faith, hope, and love are the things that last forever, it becomes clear that these are the things we should pursue with our lives. Some may feel concerned at the thought of knowing what the end goal is, that perhaps there is no point to life if there is nothing left to discover. But there is life in these things that will never run out!
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"...we become scarred by experiences..."
In the beginning, we are born with no other understanding besides faith. As babies, we naturally seek care and to be nurtured. We confidently look for someone to give us the care that we need. As we earn the badges of life, we become scarred by experiences that strip our faith and our hope away, and in turn, we forget our natural instinct to love as we become consumed with finding a new starting point.
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"It can mark the beginning for someone else."
Finding faith, hope, and love for ourselves does not mark the end of anything. It can mark the beginning for someone else. If you have ever been in a broken place, you know the power of someone else showing you kindness or believing in you. When you are shown love, you ignite a new belief of what you could be. Then you become hopeful that there is still good in this world. Then you love yourself. Then you share love with others and spark this cycle over and over again. This is our beginning, our new beginnings, and our forever, both for us and our fellow man.
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A Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Love
We can start with this prayer from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for starting my cycle of life and giving me the wisdom needed to walk with you. I pray that I will continually be interested in wisdom so that my hope cannot be cut off. I pray that as I stay full, I will look for ways to carry out your work to help someone else in need. Amen.
Kyle Blevins is the sole contributor to the blog, REDIRECTED, which focuses on rediscovering purpose through love. His life took a turning point after being surrounded by positive people who believed he was capable of a better life than he was leading. His passion is connecting with people who are looking for a more productive new beginning. You can follow his blog at iamredirected.com.
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