In 1 Corinthians 13, the famous Love passage, Paul says there are only three things that abide with eternal significance, and those three things are faith, hope, and love. In Colossians 1, verses 3 thru 5, Paul puts those three crucial ingredients together in his prayers of thanksgiving for the saints. He writes, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” We see faith, hope, and love linked together often in Paul’s writings.  Paul presents them as the supreme marks by which a church is measured and, by implication, by which a Christian is measured. It’s not one’s spiritual gifts, one’s abilities, one’s personality, or one’s passions that God measures believers by. It’s faith, hope & love. Look at these other verses written by the Apostle Paul. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 says, “We continually 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.” Galatians 5:5–6: “We eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus … the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Ephesians 1:15–18: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.… I also pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you …”

This verse begins with Paul explaining how he is always “thankful” for the believers in Colossae. Thankfulness is such an important motive for prayer. God often instructs us to be thankful. It’s good for us. James tells us that every good gift comes from the “Father of Lights.” Like any wise father, God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us. It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him. Without gratitude, we become arrogant and self-centered. We begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in the right relationship with the Giver of all good gifts. One blogger says, “Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we do have. Human beings are prone to covetousness. We tend to focus on what we don’t have. By giving thanks continually, we are reminded of how much we do have. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we are happier. When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize that we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God.”[1]

Paul clarifies these three things he is thankful for regarding the believers in Colossae. When he talks about faith, it’s “Faith in Jesus Christ.” Some commentators disagree, but it seems to me that it’s not just “faith” in general. Jesus is the object of that faith. He prays for them because they are fellow believers. Paul is thankful that there are brothers and sisters in the city for him to fellowship with. He talks about the love they have for each other and the importance of that while sharing the joys and trials of this life with others. The mention of their concern for other believers might be connected with the love they showed in sacrificial giving for the Jerusalem believers undergoing persecution and real hardship. Their faith in Jesus, who is God’s demonstrated love for them, motivates their love for other believers. They share a common faith, and they also share a common hope. They will one day share in the life which will be theirs forever in heaven. What would the Christian life be like without hope? Jenkins says, “The farmer plants in hope. The worker toils in hope. Parents bring up children in hope. Without hope, the Christian’s life would be bleak indeed. But the Christian’s life is not bleak; it is filled with hope.”[2] Longfellow wrote, “Life is real! Life is earnest!   And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul.”


[2] Jenkins, Ferrell. 1987. “Thanks, I Needed That!: The Hope of Heaven.” Edited by Brent Lewis. Christianity Magazine, 1987.