If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
Hope is often identified as a theological virtue. It is a tenacious attitude of confidence in God’s faithfulness that endures despite the hurt, brokenness and sadness of the world.
Hope involves a way of seeing the world. It situates the self and the world in the drama of Christ’s coming and return. It is never satisfied with things as they are and refuses to believe that sin, evil or death determine our destiny. Trusting God’s promises, it leans into God’s future.
Hope inspires God’s people to confront the rebellious kingdoms of the world that have organized themselves in opposition to the world’s rightful Sovereign. It grounds a patient impatience in the face of opposition and setbacks. It buoys us in the face of weariness and despair. It animates joyful perseverance. It enables us to take the risks that love requires.
Important as hope is, Paul reminds us that it is not as important as love. Love, as Paul describes it here, is genuine care and concern for others.
Without love, hope can degenerate into a heartless ideology. Without love, hope ceases to acknowledge that even its finest prophetic visions are limited, partial glimpses through a dim mirror. Without love, hope loses one of the chief reasons we exercise patience, which is to show an appropriate regard for others. Without love, hope can become so hell-bent on implementing its preferred future that it destroys what Christ loves.
During this season of hope, let us remember that love an even greater virtue.
A prayer for this day:
Gracious God, may our lives be marked by the virtues of faith, hope and love. By your Holy Spirit, lead us to show your love to someone today so that they are prompted to inquire about the hope that is in us. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Ray Roberts (PhD, 1999)
River Road Presbyterian Church