June 22, 2003
FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE
Paul explained that we are "not to think more highly than [we] ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has imparted to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). This measure of faith has to do with God giving us the ability or talent whereby to serve Him acceptably. In that there are differences between our gifts, we are to recognize that "all members have not the same office" or sphere of function. "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us..." we are to function "according to the proportion of faith. Each of the seven gifts mentioned is to be exercised according as God has blessed and enabled us.
To carry out that proportion of faith, the prophet is to prophesy, the minister to minister, the teacher to teach, the exhorter to exhort, the giver to give with simplicity, the ruler to rule or lead, and the one showing mercy, to do it cheerfully.
The above seven gifts are to be exercised in love explained in seven aspects. Love is to be without hypocrisy. But what does that mean in our lives and interactions with others? We are to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good; to be kindly affectioned one to the other with brotherly love; to, in honor, prefer one another; to not be slothful in business, but to be fervent in spirit as we behaving in these ways with our brethren and thus serve the Lord.
There will be seven consequences as we "rejoice in hope" being patient in tribulation and continuing in prayer among ourselves. Toward others we are to be distributing to their necessity and given to hospitality. Among ourselves we are to bless them that persecute us and curse them not. Yet to others we are to show true sympathy by rejoicing with them that rejoice and weeping with them that weep.
And we can wrap all this up by being of the same mind toward one another as we "mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate." Paul exhorted the Gentiles when he spoke of their present position of privilege and honor (resulting from Israel's being set aside), "Boast not against the branches... Be not high minded, but fear...," and "be not wise in your own conceits" (11:18, 20, 25). This is Paul's largest and most detailed example of faith, hope, and love!
Ivan L. Burgener