Pop quiz – What is the most popular month for a wedding? I guessed June, but it is number 3. September is number 2. Surprisingly, October is number 1. I’ve been noticing many wedding announcements and photos recently so I felt called to write about this topic some way.
The first marriage related thought that comes to me is a bible passage. I still remember looking over at Melanie while it was read at our wedding. 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 states:
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I had given Melanie a t-shirt after we had dated for a while that read: “Never fall in love with a tennis player, because to them love means nothing.” In case you don’t know, a score of zero in tennis is stated as love, as in we’re playing for the love of the game so it will be fun even if we don’t score a point. Yeah, right. Somehow I had scored big points with Melanie and have now been blessed with over 40 years of marriage to her.
Since we have discussed many virtues over the last couple months, I believe it is the last line of the passage I am to write about. Quick review – We have covered the heavenly virtues of humility, charity, kindness, patience, chastity, temperance, and diligence. And the cardinal virtues of prudence (wisdom), justice, fortitude (courage), and temperance.
That leaves one last list to tackle; the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. I have faith I will be given the right words, hope that you find some value in them, and will love being done writing about virtues for a while … ha:-)
One of the definitions of the word theological says, in part, that theology describes the nature and will of God as revealed to man. I take this to mean that the virtues of faith, hope, and love are the essence of the nature of the relationship God desires with us. All the other virtues are more applicable to our behavior and relationships with other people. And upon further reflection, without these three, it seems to me that the other virtues are more difficult to care about and adhere to.
Let’s look at them each in the order of the verse: So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
It all starts with Faith.
But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Without faith what incentive do we have to practice any of the virtues? Faith or a lack thereof is the root cause of our obedience or disobedience to the commandments. If we have no faith in God, what do we care about following His rules? Why not instead succumb to our selfish desires and sinful nature to enjoy all the pleasures in this life, our only life? Virtue, smirtue. Nice guys finish last, right?
But wait, with faith we have the promise of eternal life, in heaven. That sounds even better! But what does it take to have faith? Belief and trust. Both are simple yes or no choices that we all have the opportunity to make. Once you believe in God and trust that He is guiding you and looking out for your best interests, the rest becomes much easier. You then want to please Him. You want to do good and you want to help others to do the same.
To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Next comes Hope. Without faith there is no hope. Hope is faith looking forward into the future. And the hope we are talking about is a promise, a given, not a wish or a dream. God’s hope is a sure thing. Have faith in Him, be faithful to Him, and the hope of eternal life in heaven will be yours.
Hope gives us something to look forward to. Hope keeps us moving ahead. Hope fuels us to face the inevitable challenges in life. Hope overcomes fear. Hope encourages us to keep running the race. Hope reminds us that we have a savior who is coming to set us free.
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. (Nelson Mandela)
Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. (Saint Augustine)
And the greatest of these Is Love. Unconditional love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies. Can you imagine? God’s love for us is unimaginable. He gives us His only Son as a sacrifice and gift to save us from our sins and grant us eternal life. All we have to do is believe in him. Have Faith and we gain Hope through His Love. Seriously? Now that is Love!
Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
I’m glad God isn’t a tennis player. Love obviously means everything to Him.
So what are we to do? Start with faith to gain hope and to put yourself in a position to truly love? Or maybe start with love? What do you love? Why do you love it? Is it worthy of your love? Like I used to love playing tennis. I had a natural God given talent for it so it seemed appropriate to spend a lot of time honing those skills. Being good at it opened a lot of doors that enabled me to help others in a number of significant ways. But now it gives me little joy. Maybe it has become one of those childish things I am supposed to put aside. Nah:-)
But there are much more important things in life. Like people. Who do you love? Is it a God like love? I doubt if it ever can be, but we can strive for it. We are to love God and love neighbors, that is, everyone. Start with God. Say yes to His offer of forgiveness and eternal life. Then go out and show your love for others by proclaiming the good news and living it through demonstration of all the other virtues.
Here’s a simple truth, love is the foundation for every good thing in our lives. Without love, nothing else really matters. Or as the Beatles sang: All you need is love, love is all you need.
Your challenge for the week is to wake up every morning saying yes to God. Yes, I have faith. Yes, I have hope. Yes, I love you and I will do my best to show that love to you and others through my actions.
Happy Labor Day! Scott