Theological Virtues? Have you ever heard these words? Although it may seem unfamiliar, but I believe you must be familiar with Faith, Hope and Love. Yep. Faith, hope and love are the three theological virtues . It’s written in the popular reading of St. Paul, in the 1 Corinthians 13:13 (So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three…).
This three theological virtues is comparable to a tree. Faith as the root, hope as the stem or branch and love as the fruit or flower.
Faith is our helper. It’s the answer of the unanswered question. It’s the sight of what is unseen. It’s the voice of what is unsaid. Hebrew 11 talks a lot about faith.
What is the first thing that comes out from a sprout? Yes, a sprout will grow its root before growing its stem. As what St. Paul wrote in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith…” As the plant need strong root, we need strong faith as our root in Christ.
Hope is always about expecting the best. As St. Paul wrote, it’s not a hope if it’s seen. We hope for what is unseen (Romans 8:24-25). Just like the plant won’t grow any stem without having a root, hope also will never grow if there’s no faith. Hope works together with faith. How deep our hope is also how deep our faith.
In English, we have the word ‘love’. But in Greek, the word ‘love’ can be translated into 3 words Agape, Philia and Eros. And those ‘love’ translation have different meaning. Eros means intimate love, passionate love with sensual desire. Philiameans brotherly love or friendship love. Agape means unconditional love, which is commonly used to describe divine love.
And the original Bible language (Greek) used the word Agape in the theological virtue’s verse. The 1 Corinthians 13:13 wants to talk about loving God, and loving God as the greatest one above all.
How to love God? To answer this question we need to answer ‘How to grow a flower?’ Surely in growing a flower, a plant needs to grow its root and then it grows its stem. It takes time, it takes effort. So do us. If we want to love God, we should live in faith and hope. Our love to God will be tested through the time. Last but not least, remember it is “not that we have loved God but that He loved us…” (1 John 4:10)