since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…. (Colossians 1:4-5a)
International travel can be quite an experience. I still remember my first trip—all the way to Israel. I had my passport, clothes, camera, and, of course, “American Express Traveler’s Cheques.” I knew that if they were lost or stolen, they would be replaced. I knew this because TV commercials told me so. I didn’t leave home without them! One day you are going to leave this world and stand before God. There are three things you better have packed when you leave earth for eternity! Paul mentions them in these verses: faith, hope, and love—don’t leave earth without them!
We need FAITH, and Paul commends the Colossians for, "faith in Christ." "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) This is as close to a definition that we have in the Bible concerning the word faith. You will hear people speak of blind faith—well, that’s not what we’re talking about. The emphasis here is on substance and evidence. This is "faith in Christ." Faith is only as valid as its object. Christianity is about Christ. Not rigid rules, or religious ritual but a real relationship with Christ! We know Him by faith. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is the only way to come to God.
We also need HOPE, so Paul writes of, "the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…." "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." (Romans 8:24, 25) Hope is a confident expectation that rests in the promises and character of God. The Bible affirms "it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast..." (Hebrews 6:18, 19) Hope then is a refuge from the troubles of life; an anchor in the storms. It is, "the hope laid up for you in heaven." Heaven's treasures are guarded by God. This is the promise that death doesn't get the last word!
Then, we must have LOVE, and the Apostle notes, "the love that you have for all the saints." "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8) Love is the essence of who God is. You might as well command the sun not to shine as to stop God from loving. His children bear the family likeness. The Great Commandment summarizes the Christian’s responsibility: to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is good to say we love someone—we ought to. Having warm feelings is fine—we should. But that isn’t how God loved us. He took action! Love is giving yourself unreservedly. This love is, “for all the saints." Some saints are more challenging to love, but love them we must!
Faith, hope, and love—don’t leave earth without them!