1 Corinthians 13:13
And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Whatever may be the path of our future experience we shall need as much as ever, perhaps more, the "abiding" sense of the presence and help of this holy and beautiful sisterhood of Christian virtues.
I. FAITH. Faith has wings; but unlike the wings that Solomon gives to riches, faith is busy in gathering instead of scattering her treasures. Faith has wings because she is "a stranger and sojourner" on the earth. But although without a home here she has a home, and mounting up with the wings of eagles, she lives in a congenial clime, "seeing him who is invisible." Matthew Henry says, "We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God." But in God we can have faith. His wisdom is without the admixture of error; His heart infinitely kind; His power without restraint.
II. HOPE. Faith has wings, and like the wings of the cherubim in Ezekiel's vision, they are "full of eyes"; and these eyes are full of sparkling hope. By a strange paradox, the castles built by sense are vapoury visions, while the buildings of faith are substantial and enduring. Hope builds on faith, and faith builds on God, "that our faith and hope may be in God." Faith is the child in the house, who knows his filial relationship though the parent is absent. Hope is the child at the window, expecting the parent's return. A prisoner, detained in his cell for some supposable reason, after he had received his pardon, would be saved both by faith and hope; faith, in the word that announced his pardon would assure him of salvation; the prospect of release from his prison cell would be his bright hope; at the hour of his departure he would "receive the end of his faith" — full deliverance.
1. Love is "greatest" by reason of its dignity. Both faith and hope are receptive in their character; but love is communicative, therefore is it "greatest," for "it is more blessed to give than to receive"!
2. Love is "greatest" by reason of age — it is the eldest. Love can say — before faith and hope were "I am." It was the flower of Eden, but its first growth was not there, for it was transplanted from the garden of heaven, and blossomed in the bosom of God "from everlasting."
3. Love is "greatest" by reason of its strength. "Love is strong as death." How firm a hold does death take of its captives! This aspect of love has several relations.
(1) There is God's love to us. When we see this we are taken captive by love at its will. It is a power magnetic. We love because first loved.
(2) There is our love to God. How weak, alas! the measure of it; but how potent its quality! No motive for service can be compared with it; nor anything in service sustain like it.
(3) Hence our power with men. As God "commendeth His love to us" by His love, and we by love commend our service to God, so must we commend ourselves to men. Love makes us kingly, and hearts are ever ready to do homage to all who rule with love's sceptre.
Parallel VersesKJV: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.