“Since we belong to the day, we must be sober. We must put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8
Both experience and scripture have taught me that for any relationship to flourish between two people the conditions must be right. For example, the ideal conditions for a successful marriage are faith, hope and love. You will discover that these are the ‘big three’ of the Bible as well. Let’s deal with faith first. Faith simply says, “I believe in you and always will.” Obviously, a bride and groom are headed for disaster if they can’t make that declaration to one another. A marriage that is not built on trust is not a marriage at all. Faith is also a condition for a relationship with the Lord. (See John 3:16 and Ephesians 2:8)
A couple must also have hope that they will remain together for always (in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, for better or for worse.) There is a close tie between faith and hope. This is well noted in Hebrews eleven verse one where it states that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Hope is not the same as wishful thinking. When someone says, “I hope I win the lottery!” he readily accepts the fact that he may not. It’s nothing more than a wish. But this is not the kind of hope the Bible talks about, nor is it the kind of hope a marriage is founded upon. The word used for hope in the New Testament is ‘elpis’. It is the Greek term for ‘expectation’. Couples enter into marriage with the expectation of growing old together. It’s ‘till death do you part.’
To say that ‘love is a condition for marriage’ sounds like I’m stating the obvious. But I would remind the reader that the Bible’s definition of love is not anything like the world’s definition of it. The world’s view of love is upside-down. It says, “Me first, then others, then (maybe) God.” Biblical love says the exact opposite, “God first, then others and me last.” This is the divine order of agape love and it is a love that is unconditional. In other words, it loves according to this divine principle no matter what. This is why wedding rings are exchanged between bride and groom. Just like a circle has no end, neither should the love between husband and wife.
Faith, hope and love form the basis of the marriage covenant. They are echoed in the vows and they are the conditions for a relationship to flourish. It is for this reason that some couples would rather live together than ‘tie the knot.’ They lack the confidence in their partner or in themselves to exchange vows because they lack faith, or hope, or love. And even if you lack just one of these conditions ‘till death do you part’ becomes a frightening proposition.
I speak in terms of marriage because that is exactly the kind of relationship we enter into with Christ. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior we become to Him His bride. The conditions for this relationship to flourish are exactly the same as the ones we‘ve already been discussing. We walk by faith trusting Jesus every step of the way. We have the wonderful hope of eternal life; it is not something we wish for but fully expect. And we love Him because He first loved us. Granted, our faith, hope and love is far from perfect when we enter into a relationship with the Lord. But that is what we strive for and Jesus helps us along the way. Honestly, without His help we would have no hope at all! Perhaps you are one who hesitates in making this kind of commitment to Christ. Maybe it’s because you lack confidence in yourself. I would submit to you that that lack of self confidence is a good thing. The faith, hope and love I speak of is beyond man’s reach. We have no other recourse but to look to Jesus. Let Him help you.
“So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
Excellent article. There was something I heard years ago that is still true and ties in with your article. To have real joy , do what this illustrates.
THIS SPELLS JOY!!