1 Thessalonians 5
Those three words are our antidote for surviving in the midst of a sin-filled culture where the darkness of moral depravity surrounds us. We are sons of light and sons of the day, yet the world we live in loves the darkness. Jesus Himself was "the Light of men" (John 1:4) and He came to shine in the midst of the darkness, but "the darkness did not comprehend it" (John 1:5). Jesus would later tell His disciples, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12). Jesus also warned His disciples that, "for a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light; so that the darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light" (John 12:35-36).
Paul reminds us that we are sons of Light. So we are to be alert, awake, sober, and diligent – living our lives in the light as sons of Light. And how do we do that? Faith, love, and hope. Paul says that we are to equip ourselves with a breastplate made up of faith and love. Those two qualities are like iron and ore that when heated in the furnace of life produces an alloy of incredible strength and durability. You cannot have one without the other. Love that is not based on and mixed with a faith in the grace-filled love of God is merely human sentimentality that will prove insufficient when put to the test. Faith that is not accompanied by and expressed in love for God and others is nothing more than a mental assent to the reality of God, but without any real expression in our lives. Paul warned that " if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2). My faith must be expressed in love. My love must be grounded in faith.
But if I want to truly survive as a son of Light in a dark world, I must have hope. But not just any hope. It must be the hope of salvation – that what God began at my conversion, He will complete. Paul says, "for God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Vs 9). Salvation is out destiny. It isn't a past event, but a future reality. Yes, I was saved, but I am being saved every day. And I will one day be saved when God calls me home or His Son returns. My hope is in the certainty of my future salvation – when I will obtain or gain possession of my salvation in its final form. Hope is what protects my mind from despair, disappointment, thoughts of defeat, or the temptation to give up. That is why Paul refers to it as a helmet. It is what surrounds my mind and protects it from the blows of the enemy that attempt to destroy and incapacitate us.
Faith, love, and hope. They are essential for life in this world. They are the qualities of the sons of Light. They prepare us for the battle in which we find ourselves. Paul describes them as military armor. We wear them because we know we are at war and cannot survive without them. They protect us and preserve us. So we should never leave home without them.
Father, may my life be increasingly more characterized by faith, love and hope. All centered and based on the cross of Christ – the greatest expression of all three. Amen