Summary: The words faith, hope, and love are concepts we need to be clung to as defined by God and not by the watered down, vague, poor imitations that our world suggests as the meanings.
Faith Hope and Love?
May 13, 2012 Mothers’ Day 1 Cor 13:13
Definitions matter. Do you know what these words mean?
ABDICATE: To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
ANTIQUE: An item your grandparents bought, your parents got rid of, and you're buying again.
AVOIDABLE: What a bullfighter tries to do.
BALDERDASH: A rapidly receding hairline.
BATHROOM: A room used by the entire family, believed by all except Mom to be self-cleaning.
COFFEE: A person who is coughed upon.
DERANGE: Where de buffalo roam.
EYEDROPPER: A clumsy ophthalmologist.
EXPERIENCE: The name men give to their mistakes.
FEEDBACK: The inevitable result when the baby doesn't appreciate the strained carrots.
GROCERY LIST: What you spend half an hour writing, then forget to take with you to the store.
HINDSIGHT: What one experiences from changing too many diapers.
INDEPENDENT: How we want our children to be as long as they do everything we say.
MISTY: How golfers create divots.
OVERSTUFFED RECLINER: Mom's nickname for Dad.
OW: The first word spoken by children with older siblings.
POLYGON: A dead parrot.
RELIEF: What trees do in the spring.
SELFISH: What the owner of a seafood store does.
SHOW OFF: A child who is more talented than yours.
TOP BUNK: Where you should never put a child wearing Superman pajamas.
VEGETARIAN: Old Indian word for bad hunter.
1 Cor 13:13
Humor aside, definitions really do matter. A couple of different things got me thinking about that this week, getting to this point: who do we allow to define certain vitally important words for us?
Let me take you to 1 Cor 13. There are a lot of words here, words that really matter. I want to just look at the very last verse today, but let me read the whole chapter:
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.
11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.
The passage closes with Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. It is beautiful, inspiring, and lofty. It is one of those verses in Scripture that should be written on our hearts, that should be an anchor we can cling to, that we can return to over and over as a tool with which to examine our lives. Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
Great words. But this week I asked myself this question: who defines those for us? Of the voices around us telling what faith is, what hope is, what love is, which one do we listen to and believe?
Let’s take the first word. Faith. What is that? And who defines that for us? We can turn to our culture for a definition of faith: Faith is the title of George Michael’s 1988 hit album, one of the top 500 albums of all times, selling more than 20 million copies. The album cover sports all kinds of religious symbols. The song Faith was the longest running number 1 song in 1987. I bet a bunch of you could recite the lyrics and sing along, which we aren’t going to do, but here they are, and let’s ask the question: what does this tell us about the meaning of the word faith?