Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Saturday, June 22, 2024

1 Corinthians 13:13 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  1 Corinthians 13:13

(13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 
King James Version   Change your email Bible version

For nearly all of us, waiting is uncomfortable. Because of life's frantic pace, we get frustrated if it takes thirty seconds for a traffic light to turn green. Handwritten letters are slow, and in the last decade or so, they have been largely replaced by email. Now, however, sometimes even email is too slow, so we text so we can communicate without having to wait.

Any device or technique that eliminates waiting will always grab our attention and often our pocketbook. Most of our lives are spent in such high gear that our frustration often comes boiling forth whenever we have to wait. Living only three-score-and-ten years or perhaps fourscore, we all have a degree of time-sickness—an obsessive belief that time is slipping away, that there is not enough of it, and if everything is not sorted out right now, it may just be the end of the world.

The fact is, we hate waiting—yet Scripture says so much about it, especially waiting on God. Consider the three great virtues of faith, hope, and love. Waiting on God stands at the core of biblical hope (Romans 8:23-25). The Bible uses the word "hope" not as a vague wish but as a confident trust in a future event. We do not just wish for our future redemption and adoption; we know and trust that it will happen at our resurrection. But until that hope is realized and fulfilled, we wait.

In like manner, faith and waiting are also closely linked. Our faith in God is often manifested by waiting on Him. If we trust Him—if we have faith in Him—we wait for Him to work things out that we cannot (or should not) do on our own.

The "love chapter" of I Corinthians 13 demonstrates the waiting aspect of love when it describes agape love as suffering long (verse 4). Love requires waiting while it "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (verse 7).

Though it may sound incongruous at first, waiting is actually a work. One's actions—or lack thereof—demonstrate what is in one's heart. Waiting on God is a work that demonstrates faith in Him, just as much as any example of law-keeping or other Christian deed. In fact, it is often one of the most difficult of all works.

The Bible contains many stories of great "waiters"—not those who wait on us in restaurants but the men and women who wait on God. They demonstrated their trust in God by waiting years—even decades—for a promise to be fulfilled or to see what God was doing in their lives. It seems that all of God's servants go through a time of waiting.

Consider that Noah preached and built the ark for over a century. While he certainly was not idle then, think about how much of his life was taken up by waiting for God to act and finally make the world right—even after being personally given divine instruction.

Hebrews 11 highlights Joseph's faith in terms of the instructions he gave on his deathbed, but before that, he had plenty of waiting to do as a slave and then as a prisoner. It took over two decades for his visions of his family bowing to him to come to pass. After he was raised to second-in-command of Egypt, he could have sent either an army or an ambassador to his family—either to settle the score or to make amends. Because of those dreams, he knew he would see his family again, yet he did not attempt to make it happen, even though he had nearly supreme authority in the local world. Instead, Joseph waited on God, who not only fulfilled his visions, but did it so that repentance and reconciliation also occurred. No amount of human will or authority can cause that. Joseph understood the power and wisdom in waiting on God.

Then there is Moses. It is probable that early on, Moses had some idea about the part he would play in delivering Israel, but he first had to experience forty years of preparation in Pharaoh's palace. Maybe after forty years, he thought the time was right for him to step into his destiny, yet in taking matters into his own hands by killing an Egyptian, he acted too soon by half. He had to endure another forty years in the desert, watching over dumb sheep. God's working through him did not even begin until he was eighty years old! Even then, he had to wait yet another forty years for his job to be complete—and at the end, he was not able to see the fulfillment because he had acted rashly way back in his youthful eighties.

All of these "waiters" endured long periods of time, during which it probably appeared that nothing of significance was happening. Yet they remained faithful to God during those waits and kept waiting long after most people would have given up on God. They waited after others would have concluded either that He was not there or that they needed to take matters into their own hands. But the waiters had the wisdom to keep walking with God and to remain faithful until the time was perfect for God to bring His will to pass.

— David C. Grabbe

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