In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul the Apostle declares that the greatest virtue is love. In this popular passage of Scripture, he describes love in two ways--what it is, and what it is not.
Rejoiceful in the truth
Love is NOT:
Recorder of wrongs
Delighted in evil
These 16 qualities help explain what love represents.
In another famous passage of Scripture, the author of Hebrews provides us with a helpful definition of faith. Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version) explains:
You've probably heard this verse before. But did you notice the concept that is present in Hebrew's definition of faith and in Paul's description of love? Both of these virtues are connected to hope.
Love always hopes.
Faith is confidence in what we hope for.
Hope is their companion. Hope is related to both of them. Even more, Colossians 1:4-5a (New Living Translation) implies that hope actually comes first.
"For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven."
Here we see that faith and love spring from hope. So while love is the greatest of these virtues and faith is the key to a relationship with God, hope is, metaphorically speaking, their older sister. She comes before the other two.
So what does it mean to have hope?
Hebrews 10:23 gives us a helpful way to visualize hope.
"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise."
From this verse we can create an acronym from the word "hope:"
H = holding
O = on to
P = promises &
E = expectations
To have hope means to cling to the promises God has given us in the Bible, and to hang on to the expectations we accepted when we first became believers.
This is essentially what Romans 15:4 is trying to tell us:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
Here we see that the Bible was handed down in order to inspire and encourage us. The Scriptures offer examples of the benefits others received when they persevered in their faith, and it encourages us to expect the same positive outcome when we experience a personal faith in Christ Jesus.
But hope is not the same as faith. The two vary in breadth and intensity. In my next blog post, I'll explain how hope and faith differ, and how having hope is an important step toward developing faith.