Galatians 5:5-6. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Hope. Faith. Love.
You’ve probably heard of these three before, maybe from 1 Corinthians 13. But here we find Paul’s first use of all three virtues in one line of thought.
Even though faith is mentioned first, hope is where it all begins. Because of the indwelling life of Christ we have the hope of righteousness. Hope is a joyful and confident expectation. In the Bible, hope is not like it is for us in our culture – something we want but have no idea if it will really happen. In the New Testament, hope is assurance. Union with Christ is this assurance. The assurance of righteousness. Of God’s active work in us to justify and glorify us.
Our hope, or assurance, next requires faith. We have to actually trust in this hope of righteousness. By faith we wait for the hope of righteousness. The hope is always there, but it is not always trusted. God gave us our hope in Christ. But you must believe it each moment of each day. You have to trust it to be your future, instead of the future you are trying to create for yourself.
In Galatia they put their hope in law keeping (circumcision). Therefore their lives were faithless. The law does not require faith. It requires work, and effort, and trying real hard until it crushes you. Our hope is in our righteousness in Christ. And this hope filled reality creates both faith and faithfulness
Our hope produces our faith. Our faith produces our love. Because I have the hope of righteousness through the indwelling life of Christ, and I trust in this hope, now I am free from the law, and therefore free to love purely. Not merely from reciprocity, attachment, or what I can get out of it in the present. But rather, from a future hope. Because I know that one day I will have all things, I can sacrifice my life for you today. I can love you to the point of death. I can love from the knowledge that I am loved. Not from trying to earn love.
“To live is Christ” is rooted in the confident and joyful assurance of a hope founded upon the righteousness of Christ in me. My faith in this hope means that I am trusting that I am fully loved for all time, even into my eternal future. Love then flows from this faith in the hope filled assurance of God’s love for me. This is exactly how Christ himself walked through life on this earth. And it is the only way for us to live that will not crush us, but rather produce the abundant life that Jesus promised.