These birds represent faith, hope, and love. This gift takes us back to 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter written by the apostle Paul.
While we might think that the three French hens of the third day of Christmas can be a reminder to us of the 3 persons of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; they can also be a reminder to us of 3 virtues of our Christian faith which the Apostle Paul lays out in 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Let’s look at the role of each of those virtues in our lives as Christians.
Faith is often referred to as the cornerstone of our Christian life. It’s what connects us to and receives the blessings God wants for us. Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as “the hall of fame of faith” as it lists out various Biblical characters and how they lived out their faith after we are given this definition of faith: “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
That definition underscores one of the key aspects of what our Christian faith is all about – trusting God even when we cannot see or understand what is going on. Sometimes people criticize that as “blind faith,” but our Christian faith is anything but blind. We trust God and take him at his word even when we cannot see or understand what is going on because of the perfect track record God has of making good on his promises and looking out for the eternal good of his people.
Hope is mentioned over and over in the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. One of the best references is Romans 5:3-4 because these verses show us how we can have hope even when we go through difficult times: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Consider how those aspects of life: suffering, perseverance and character can lead to hope. When we have faith that our God allows suffering to happen for a reason, we can persevere and that builds our character. All of that increases and strengthens our hope which is built on and rooted in Christ alone.
Love is a word which has many different meanings and understandings. Maybe you know that there are actually 3 different words which are translated as “love” in the Bible. We are not going to get into all of those different meanings. The most important thing we need to know and understand when the Bible tells us about love is that it is more than a feeling – love is demonstrated by actions, God’s incredible saving actions on our behalf. That is all summed up in the well-known words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”. Those familiar words remind us that Christmas is the start of God’s action plan to show his love to the world by sending a Savior.
Prayer: Heavenly Father – thank you for giving me faith in Jesus as my Savior which gives me hope as I see your love for me carried out in every aspect of my life. Help me to remember how love came down at Christmas which gives me hope and strengthens my faith. Amen.