Don’t Leave Home Without It
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
~ Joshua 1:9
Most people will recognize the title as the product of a Madison Avenue ad shop; it's a slogan written for American Express and used in their television and magazine commercials. A committee of copywriters and ad executives decided we need to have an Amex card with us whenever we leave the house. But Madison Avenue is in the business of lying for money. They want to make something look better than it is, so that people who don’t need it will pay money for it, and then they can have a big salary, a summer house in the Hamptons, an ulcer and a newer, younger spouse.
Lies are expensive. The truth is free. There are people who do try to make a lot of money selling it, and some who succeed, but it’s free. Or at worst, you can get it for $2.99 plus shipping on amazon.com, the price of the ESV economy Bible (free if you have a Kindle reader).
And the truth is, you can leave home (at least sometimes) without a credit card. But there are three things that you cannot leave home without: Love. Joy. Hope. If you have been a Christian very long, you will recognize a common theme among these three traits, which is, that they are all fruits of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that these three abide: Faith, hope, and charity. So for convenience sake, let us bundle faith with joy and see them as two sides of the same coin.
“Abide” means, of course, “live.” And in the parlance of the New Testament, we live only by knowing Christ. As we learned in Galatians, the essential state of salvation is that we die and are reborn in Christ. He lives in us, and (using the preposition “in” with a different meaning) we live in Him. To “live in Christ” boils down to the three cardinal attributes of faith/joy, hope, and charity/love.
Faith and joy are the root of belief, the beginning, the key, to knowing God. Faith means that we are so sure that God exists and has told us the truth in His Bible that we bet everything on Him. It is almost impossible to define, because it occurs in a different way than anything else we experience. It is a realization that there is something very powerful that we cannot see, hear, or touch, something more powerful than the visible reality around us. Faith is the trait, and joy is the resulting emotion, when we realize through our spirit that we have a God, who made us and knows us.
Hope is the assurance of something unseen. It has a different meaning than when we use it in everyday language, meaning that we wish for something that we are not at all sure will happen. It does not mean that we “hope we go to heaven.” It is tied to faith, but with a different emphasis, and emphasizes certainty, not contingency.
Hope is the absolute knowledge we receive, through faith, that Christ was the Son of God and that, by His sacrifice, we belong to God and He is going to look out for us. When all is said and done, we know that we will live, in peace and perfect happiness, with Christ in heaven. We have already crossed the finish line and we have won the race. It’s all over but the shoutin’, as the saying goes.
And to keep this short: read 1 John. Love is the result. It is the sign, the proof, that we are actually living in Christ. When we are careless of our faith and hope, our love recedes in proportion to how much we are living in the world. The best thing is to divorce ourselves from the world, even as we live in it, and take our love with us wherever we go, whatever we do.
Faith. Joy. Hope. Love. Don’t leave home without it.
Heavenly father, let me always live in the spirit and show Your love before all the world. Amen.
~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer