After the base layer of faith has been established ~ Faith that rests in Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith ~ Faith that is dependent solely on Him for life everlasting ~ Faith that reaches beyond the limitations of human possibility into the limitlessness of The One who does the impossible ~ Faith that causes us to step into the unknown, trusting in the faithfulness of our God, then we can enjoy the next layer: Hope.
Hope that reaches beyond our circumstances, relationships, stuff, and ourselves ~ Hope that is consistent, unchanging, and sure to come ~ Hope for a future that is void of disappointment, pain, sickness, darkness, and sadness ~ Hope for a life that we were created to live forever, and ever, and ever. ~ Hope for the day when Jesus returns and brings with Him the new heaven and earth ~ Hope that is confirmed by the gift of the Holy Spirit, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
And when our hope is set level on faith, then we can love the way we have been called to love:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39, ESV).
Of the three critical words listed in 1 Cor. 13:13, love is the only one given a follow-up: “but the greatest of these is love” (ESV).
Faith is critical. Without it, we cannot experience life everlasting which is sure to come and we cannot live the life we were meant to on this side of heaven, living wholly abandoned to the author and perfecter of it.
After all, He is the author and perfecter of faith.
Hope is necessary; it serves to keep us focused on Him even when the temporary hopes of this life come and go.
After all, He is hope. He offers it freely to all who will put their faith in Him.
And finally, love. Love is something that beckons candles and sparkles. It is what ultimately points to our Maker, our Redeemer, our Grace-Giver, and our Mercy-Seeker.
I love the visual of a three-tiered cake because when the layers of faith and hope are level, they can support the final tier, love, perfectly.
The first commandment is that we would love Him with all our hearts, and souls, and minds. If we have understood His faithfulness, then we can rest assured of our ultimate hope, and when we have put our hope in Him, then we truly understand how great a love He has for us.
And We Won’t Be Able To Help But To Love Him Back.
Even when we’ve been faithless, He’s been faithful (2 Tim 2:13).
And when all hope seems lost, He says, “For I know that plans I have for you; plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11, ESV). “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20,ESV).
His command for us to love our neighbors (i.e. everyone we come into contact with) is simple when our other two layers are level:
When our faith is truly in Him, then it is not . . . . .
or in those around us,
or in our circumstances,
or in our limitations,
then we can love purely, freely, and consistently in the calm, in the storm, and in the times of waiting that occur in this life.
When our hope is truly in Him, then it is not . . . . .
or in those around us,
or in our stuff,
or in our circumstancs,
then we can love others purely, freely, and consistently, even when our temporary hopes shatter, even when others let us down, even when life takes a turn in a direction we most feared.
In short: this life is not at all about us. It is about:
(1) Learning to love the Lord your God back— with all your heart, soul, and mind by seeking a personal relationship with Him and pursuing a faith-filled life because that’s who He is, basking in the hope of life eternal that is sure to come.
(2) Learning how to love others with His kind of grace-filled, unchanging love so that they might understand the love of their Heavenly Father who asks those who follow Him to rebuild their life on three words: faith, hope, and love. Each of these will last forever!
Let’s light the top tier with candles and shine bright for Him, basking in a love relationship that celebrates His faithfulness, the hope He offers, and the love He freely gives.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt. 5:14-16, NLT).
“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13, NLT).
Let’s love greatly, Mustard Seed Girls. What do we have to loose? Our faith. Nope. Our hope? Nope.
May the extravagant love of Christ light up our lives in such a way that others stop and ask.. . How in the world do you have faith? Hope? Love? And we can respond with one word: Jesus. It’s who He is. It is what He offers. Let’s live a three-tiered cake kind of life: grounded, beautiful, stable, and ready at any moment to celebrate Christ.
Let’s bring Him glory!