The Bible tells us that faith, hope, and love are quintessential for Christians and that love is the greatest of all. Let’s look at faith, hope, and love using the first three elements of the Prayer Pyramid method: “Believe”, “Trust”, and “Ask”.
Believe – Lose the anxiety and live boldly within Christ
The Decision and its Consequences
The basis for our thoughts, feelings, and actions is our decision to believe in Jesus. Accepting Jesus means we believe that Jesus offers us eternal life through His sacrifice on the cross. We accept His incredible gift.
Once we accept Jesus, we go through life with the knowledge that no matter what, our spirit will live forever. This hope strengthens us. We can endure anything. We live boldly in Christ.
Separation Through Crowding Out
Some forces can separate us from God and destroy this hope of salvation. There is the daily grind. We get so busy that we do not have time for God anymore. As time passes, we lose sight of God. He becomes second, then third, fourth to something or someone else until He disappears altogether from our hearts. While we separate, we lose the hope for eternal life. Anxiety settles in our hearts and takes the place of hope. The resulting uneasiness and apprehension are easy to remediate. We make God number one again, and hope returns.
Separation Through Sin
Sin also separates us from God. We create a blockage when we lie, hurt, or sin in any way. All people sin, and the issue most often does not lie in the sin, but in our reaction to it. Do we cover it up or do we acknowledge and address it?
Jesus told us that we need to ask for forgiveness for our sins and that we need to forgive the ones who hurt us. To forgive is a requirement for all Christians. It shows that we get the point that Jesus died for us on the cross. If we don’t ask for forgiveness or don’t offer it, if we hold grudges, Jesus died in vain. It is as if we spit God in His face! God will not forgive us when we waste the sacrifice of His son! It results in the disconnection from Him. Again, anxiety settles in. Forgiveness is the only way to remediate this type of anxiety.
Moreover, we need to make sure that we stand up to the temptation of recurring sin. If we know the triggers, we need to either remove them or strengthen us to fight them. The Bible tells us that we can protect us from temptation through the hope of salvation.
Summary of Believe
Hope and anxiety are antonyms and belong together.
Hope shows our path to spiritual life, while anxiety in healthy people is a symptom of spiritual death. We need to take these anxious feelings seriously. They tell us something is amiss in the connection between God and us. It needs to be fixed so that we can live boldly within Christ.
Trust – Stop worrying, start living
Requirements for and Promise of Faith
Faith means trust. It represents the type of relationship we have with someone. We only trust someone when we know the person’s intentions are beneficial towards us and see this confirmed in his or her actions. Once we are sure of someone or something, we are willing to work for that person or thing. We KNOW something good will come from that work. Hence, faith or trust means knowledge. Hence, to trust God, we MUST know Him.
Our faith in God thus depends on our knowledge and image of Him. Do we perceive God as a loving or as a harsh God? Do we know that He intervenes on our behalf? Have we seen miracles happen? Do we recognize His handprint? The first step to increase our trust in God is to open our senses and see the miracles He performs, the help He provides, and the unusual ways He uses. We learn that all things are possible with Him.
Once we see that He IS God, we need to know that He would use His power on our behalf. I need to know that He cares about ME. While God does not want us to see His face, we can see His footprints. Did we ever go hungry? God does provide for His sheep. He uses people, jobs, churches and even government to help us. He teaches me how to help myself. God cares about Me!
Our image of God impacts our faith. If we believe He is selfish, vengeful, or erratic, we obviously cannot trust him. But if we know that God is kind, loving and perfect, it is easy to lay all our concerns at His feet.
So what happens, when we do not trust God? We start worrying! We worry about our finances, about our health, about our relationships, about our jobs, even about our faith. We try to get control of these issues. We start micromanaging. We are unhappy even if everything in our lives goes smoothly. Now think how insulting this behavior must be to God! He helps us create a good life, but we refuse to trust him and for reasons of impatience or misunderstanding take the reigns away from him? Worries lead us to push God aside.
Going down the worry-lane is dangerous also because it consumes our thoughts. It takes away the energy and time we used to have for God and his tasks. Nothing seems worthwhile anymore. When worries persist, they attack not only our faith but also our bodies and most importantly, our connection to God. Messages in our head pick God apart and turn Him into something He is not. Once we lose God, worries turn into anxiety.
God wants us to trust Him. He knows that we are happier and more productive when we do. He wants us to strengthen our faith. Most problems we face serve as faith-builders. Instead of complaining about our problems, He wants us to look at how they improve the trust in Him and in ourselves. We can learn to deal with problems when looking at the past. What happened when we lost our job? Did we finally have time for God, our family and ourselves? Did it improve our relationships with any of them? What happened when we could not pay our debt? Did we finally grow up and become financially responsible persons while also learning to be creative in finding a solution and thus grow more confident? Personal growth comes from dealing with stuff that does not work. We grow when we successfully solve challenges. We become independent, assertive, and resilient. As we build up our trust in God, the worries disappear, and we get our energy back. We are able to work again and to deal with anything. Hence, by mastering faith-builders, we learn to be happy independent of the external situation.
Faith and worries are antonyms and belong together.
Trust creates energy, confidence, and resilience while worries reduce our energy, refocus our thoughts and lead to unhappiness. We need to be wary of worries as they can lead to a separation from God. We get ample chances to build our faith when turning problems into faith-builders. Our lives flourish and take us to new horizons once we are steadfast in God.
Ask – Learn to love and to overcome indifference
What Love Is and What Not
The Bible tells us that love is greater than hope and faith and that we are nothing without love. We also learn that love is patient and kind, does not envy or boast, is not proud, does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking or easily angered, and does not keep any records of wrongs. We are taught that love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, that it always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
We never feel better than when we fall in love, and the love is reciprocal. We never have to worry about being loved by God. He loves us, patiently and kindly. He is not easily angered. He protects us, even from ourselves. The question is whether we love God in the same manner. Are we curious about him? Do we want to know Him and His ways? We need to know if we love God for Himself or for ourselves? Do we love Him egoistically wanting to receive rather than to give? Do we love Him so we can boast? We need to evaluate the type of relationship we have with God and the motivations behind it.
Letting God into our Lives with Prayer
Our relationship with God tells us about our understanding of love. The relationship starts with prayer. Even though God knows all about us, the question is whether we invite God into the details of our life or if we keep Him at arms-length. How we pray shows the type of relationship we want: deeply involved or superficial. Even though God wants to be close to us and be an integral part of our lives, He will always respect the limits we set. He loves us that much!
Communication is Essential
Love is not self-seeking. Neither is God. He listens to us. Do we listen to Him? Are our prayers self-talk or addressed to God? Can we hear His joy when He is happy about our lives? Can we hear Him when He is angry with us? We need to recognize His feelings. Although He is slow to anger, He does get mad! We better pay attention to His message!
Do we care when God tries to guide us with His wisdom? Good communication is the basis for any relationship, and it is a two-way street! Once we listen, do we follow His suggestions, recommendations or orders? Do we trust Him that He is right? Do we try to figure out His message when it seems unclear? Do we learn from Him and grow? Again, all partners in working relationships listen to each other and take whatever is said seriously. If not, the relationship is one-sided and not healthy. Once we implement His suggestions and see that they work, who gets the glory? Do we credit God or do we keep the accolades for ourselves? While love does not envy, boast or keep score, it still must be based on the truth.
To Love Means to Care
Do we care about God? Do we spend time with him? Are we curious about Him? Do we want to read His words? Do we want to please Him? Love is both straightforward and complex. God will teach us about love if we want to learn. Once we find the secret of a loving relationship with Him, we are devoted and willing to work hard on behalf of His purpose and happiness.
The Gift of Love
There is no guarantee that any person will ever love us the way God loves us. We cannot force or earn love. It is a gift. We can learn to be patient and kind to anyone independent of their affection to us. We can be curious and learn about and from them, and protect them even if they cannot give us anything in return. Since we receive God’s love through grace, we can extend our love to other people as well. We can care, show compassion, and treat them well without anger or exploitation. Although we may find out how God may feel when He works His butt off on our behalf without us noticing it, there will always be a payout for us, even if it may not be on this earth. We will collect our rewards later in heaven.
When Love Dies
What happens when love dies? Caring stops. Help is offered out of duty or self-interest. Communication becomes a one-way street. Initially, actions may be measured and compared on scorecards, and personal attacks may abound. At that point, there is still life in the relationship and with that the possibility to fix it.
As time passes, walls are built around the heart to protect it. When the walls get thicker, indifference sets in. Nothing can reach the heart anymore. Now the relationship is cold, broken, dead. It can only be revived by God. However, for that to happen, both parties need to accept Jesus and let Him do His miracles. Jesus knows how to start the fire again. He has revived souls, hearts, and bodies. It is up to us if we want His help. If we fully believe in Him, trust Him with all our might and love Him with all our hearts, we will rejoice in our human relationships!
Love and indifference are antonyms and belong together.
Receiving love is a gift and cannot be forced.
However, we can copy God’s relationship with us and offer sincere love to people. When we love, we are willing to work endlessly on behalf of the beloved. On the other hand, fighting and keeping scores are symptoms of a hurting although fixable relationship. Once indifference settles in, the relationship is dying. At that point, it takes Jesus to revive it. Let’s hope that Jesus is in both person’s hearts. With Jesus, all things are possible, even the resurrection of love.
The Bible tells us to have faith, hope, and love and that love is the greatest of all. Hope connects and makes relationships possible. Faith or trust brings them to flourish. Love strengthens them. Together they allow us to live boldly, move mountains and endure all challenges.
However, there are dangers to losing hope, faith, and love. Anxiety in healthy people is a sign of a troubled connection to God, worries talk of failing faith, and indifference displays the dead of the relationship. These feelings need to be taken seriously given that the consequences are so dreadful. Nevertheless, Jesus can cure sick and revive even dead relationships.
Our human relationships reflect our relationship with God. When we model our behavior after God’s behavior and learn from Him what hope, faith, and love mean, we get not only profound and fulfilling relationships but also a meaningful life full of energy devoid of anxiety, worries, and indifference. Dreams become a reality.
Bible verses used (all NIV*)
- 1 Corinthians 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
*New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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