“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
When referring to spiritual gifts, Paul instructs the Corinthians to “…covet earnestly the best gifts…” (1 Corinthians 12:31) and then he begins a wonderful description of “charity”. Paul tells them that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and knowledge would fail, cease, and vanish away but that these three virtues abide, the greatest or best of which, is “charity”.
“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Colossians 3:14
We often think of “charity”, as an organization that we can make tax-deductible contributions to, but as we see in this verse it is defined as the glue or bonding agent that makes us perfect / complete. Without “charity” we are nothing and of no profit; it is what holds all the godly components of our life together and to each other and makes us of use to God. “Charity” is like love in action, but how do “faith” and “hope” connect with “charity”? Hebrews 11:1 defines “faith” as “… the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And since “…faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), we conclude that “faith” must be rooted in the histories, doctrines, and applications, that we have recorded for us in the Bible. A mentor of mine defines “faith” as believing the Word of God to the point of application! The direction of our “faith” then; looks backward at what God has already said and done whereas “hope” logically looks toward the future.
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast…” Hebrews 6:19
So “hope” in the Bible is not wishful thinking; but rather, it is an assurance of things that just haven’t happened yet! Colossians 1:28 says, “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” If we have Christ in us, we have assurance of salvation, that’s why true Christians profess to “know” that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13), it is the belief in something that is as good as done. The reason we ask someone, “are you saved?” in a past tense manner, is because we question if there has been a time or place that he / she have placed their “faith” in what the Bible says about their sin, who Christ is, and what he has done for them, through prayer. Friend, once you have “Christ in you”, you are saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9); it’s a done deal and you have “hope” for the future!
“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Ephesians 2:12
If we base our “faith” on Bible past and our “hope” in Bible future, it stands to reason that “charity” must be exercised in the present. “Charity” is the banner that Christians must wave to let others know that we are Christians (John 13:35). Just as a candle can ignite another candle and not lose its own flame we too are to be “the light of the world” and give that light “...unto all that are in the house” so that they “…may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16). As a candle diminishes and consumes itself to provide light to illuminate others; so Christians ought to decrease, in order for Christ to be increased (John 3:30) and for true “charity” to abide.
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8