My Fitness

Saturday, July 1, 2017

faith, hope, and love

For the longest time, I found myself doubting everything. If someone said something, I doubted its truth. If I read something, more doubt. It didn't matter if it was a newspaper, a textbook, or the Bible. I doubted. I didn't like this about myself but I hated being deceived and I had a trickster for a father who delighted in watching me fall for his lies. These were usually benign jests but the foolishness bothered me. I didn't want to be a fool any more.

I prayed for wisdom and faith. I wanted to have faith in the Bible. I wanted to believe. The first step I found was to read the Word for myself. No one can trick you into thinking something is in the Bible that isn't if you're reading it for yourself. They can still trick you into thinking it means something other than what it means so you must also study it more than merely reading.

[I'm reminded of a foolish child who was slightly older than me trying to tell me that the Bible said I had to do what they said because it says to "respect your elders". HAHAHAHAHAHA! oh kids.]

My reading led to more praying, and praying led to more reading. Every time I doubted something, I'd pray and find a Scripture to help me find the wisdom in the situation. Eventually this led to someone remarking on my spiritual gifting of faith. I was shocked! I had been praying for faith and acting and speaking the words of faith but I didn't feel any different. But my friend was right - I was acting in faith. I did this and not that because in faith I was believing the Word of God. I didn't even realize it. I don't think it was a "gift" so much as a "discipline". I had to learn it. This was ten years ago.

This week I heard a sermon that spoke about faith and hope. You can find it here. One of the points I remember is that faith looks back to the cross and hope looks forward to the promises of God. So I learned that all this time what I was calling "faith" is actually called "hope". [I don't know the Greek words, so these might not be the right definitions still. But my second point still remains that God listens to the heart..."groanings too deep for words".]

This is great on two fronts for me personally. First, I had just been wondering what hope was because I hope I get to live at the beach and I hope my dinner tastes good, but surely that isn't the same as the Biblical "hope". And it isn't. The second is that I'm so glad God doesn't take my words literally. We don't have to be eloquent and well-spoken, or even use words correctly, to pray and receive from God what he wants for us. He didn't even seem to care that I was using the wrong word. He knew my heart and he knows yours. He's not a magic genie waiting for a specific incantation or magic spell to be spoken. He wants our hearts.

With talk of faith and hope, my mind naturally went to the conclusion of I Corinthians 13: So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. What does that mean? Faith looks back to the cross. Hope looks forward to the promises. Love is present life. It is good to have faith in the cross of Christ. It is good to have hope in the promise of heaven. But love covers a multitude of sins and allows us to live in peace with each other. Love draws others to Christ. My faith and my hope does not affect you, but my love for God is naturally expressed in love for you and living a life in Christ that edifies and up-lifts you. A life of Love sacrifices self for the good of others. A life of Love puts your needs before mine. A life of Love treats you the way I would want to be treated. A life of Love gives without expectation of any return. Love reaches so far into the past and into the future beyond measure. Love encompasses faith and hope. You can't love God without having faith and hope.

So now my new prayer is to learn to love. Maybe in ten years someone will say that I have the gift of love. I will read and pray and pray and read until then. I will act as best as I can in love. This is not natural for me and I readily admit my failings. I am not a loving person. But I'm also not a faith or hope person and yet people say that I am - that is not me but Christ in me. So hopefully, I will also be loving because that too will be Christ in me.

edit to add: since writing this, I've read THIS sermon, again by Piper, that further encourages me in the Path as described above.

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