Three French Hens
On the third day of Christmas … three French hens. Well, chickens are amazing creatures after all. The eggs they produce are some of the best source of healthful protein you can find, and on top of that, their meat goes well in probably tens of thousands of prepared dishes around the world. Hens are also extremely defensive of their young. They will gather their chicks under their wings to put themselves between their young and the impending danger. That behavior is a show of the ultimate love of self-sacrifice. We are reminded, yet again, of Jesus’ self-sacrifice for us all. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
This day’s gift in the song can stand for the three great virtues of FAITH, HOPE, & LOVE. “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). For a Christian, FAITH is at the very core of our lives. Satan and the world we live in will constantly bombard us with lies and misleading arguments bent on one thing; to pry us away from God’s embrace. Faith is a powerful weapon that defends us against Satan and all his wiles. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16). We may not be able to physically see the spiritual war waging around us, but rest assured that our Heavenly Father has promised to protect us. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). But faith is not blind belief, and it is far more than our own cognitive knowledge. Faith is trusting in our Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our God created us, redeemed us, and sanctified us because He loves us unconditionally. We are His precious and beloved children, forever and always, from before we were born. Faith is the belief that amidst Satan’s lies and deceits of this world, “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8).
God promised that He would redeem us through His Son, Jesus Christ. He fulfilled that promise. God promised that Jesus Christ would return again to earth to call the redeemed home to heaven. Because of God’s grace and mercy towards us, we have HOPE in that promise. Hope is waiting for what God has promised to us. Hope allows us to be bold, not letting Satan scare us away from God’s promise. Faith works to secure our hearts in the grace of God, producing a joyous conscience. Hope works to guard our hearts from Satan, especially in times of adversity. Hope cannot exist without faith. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1–5).
The greatest virtue is LOVE. Love flows out of faith and hope like a torrential river. Love’s raging fire, once ignited by faith and hope, cannot be extinguished. Because God gives us faith freely from the Holy Spirit and we have hope because Jesus Christ freely redeemed us by defeating sin and death, we are free to love! And love is greater than EVERY evil that Satan can conjure up. Christians rejoice in the knowledge that with faith, hope, and love, all given to us freely from our Triune God, we can defy sin, the troubles of life, the devil, and even death because Jesus Christ has done all those things first. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57).
Because we are free of the bondage of this world and Satan, we are likewise free to pour out God’s love through our service to our neighbors. God doesn’t need our good works, but there is nothing now standing in the way of us doing those good works, because we have been saved and are free in Him. “’For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25:35–40).
”The Twelve Days of Christmas” song image is by Xavier Romero-Frias and used under Creative Commons license BY-SA 3.0.