Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ingredient #12 - Hope (Love - Part 14)

"...hopes all things..."
I Corinthians 13:7

I hope this never happens again.

I hope he's on time.

I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

I hope everything turns out okay.

I hope the Sox starting winning some time soon.

When we think about the word "hope", the feeling we have is what you see in the woman's face above - uncertainty and wishful thinking.  Do we really think that in this wonderful recipe of full, rich, foundational ingredients that God would throw in an iffy, unstable, questionable ingredient such as hope?  Or maybe our understanding of hope is different than what it should be...

Hope can be a noun or a verb. In noun form, hope is a person or thing on which our expectations are centered.  A very simple application of this definition comes in the form of a question.  Who do you have your hope in?  Your spouse? Your job? Your children?  Your family?  Your church?  Unfortunately, if our hope (expectation) is in something limited and even sinful, we will be disappointed.  But if our hope is in Jesus Christ, our expectations, our dreams, our purpose for living is placed solely on Him, then we can have confidence that He is working in every circumstance of our lives, that He loves us literally with His whole life and that He is coming again for us one day.  Hope in this context is more of a confident waiting game than an unsure expectation.

But in this verse hope is a verb, so defined is to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.  Love that hopes all things is a love that has reasonable confidence in the object of its affection.  Let's first look at Jesus.

Luke 22 tells us about the final supper Jesus had with His disciples before His arrest.  He knew what was coming and yet He chose to lovingly care for and speak into His disciple's lives.  At one point He turned to Peter and gave him this warning - note the hope that flows from His love:

"Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."  Luke 22:31,32

We know what happens to Peter (Simon) - he denies Christ three times - big time low point in his life. But he is forgiven and restored as a leader of the disciples, forging a trail into the Gentile world and faithfully serving Christ with abandon to his death.   Jesus' warning was not sugar-coated.  Peter had to go through a major valley, the but hope that he would come out stronger, more faithful and as a leader was a loving gift from God.  I am positive that the memory of Christ's words were encouraging and powerful in Peter's post-ascension life.

The added ingredient of hope in your love is an inspiring, life-giving action.  Hope enables you to live Philippians 4:8, focusing on what is true, lovely, honorable, right, pure, of good reputation, excellent and praiseworthy.  It allows you to be your husband's biggest fan.  It makes you the head of the cheerleading squad of life.  It makes you a positive person rather than a negative person.  It surpasses the sour criticisms of a critical spirit and lets you live your life with rose-colored glasses. 

But Kristen, that's not very realistic. Life stinks, sin stinks and if you've been hurt once by someone, odds are you'll be hurt again. So we need to protect ourselves and not be so naive to think the best of people.

Oh, dear friend - what side of the bed did you wake up on today? Remember, our hope (noun) is in Jesus Christ, therefore we can hope (verb) the best for people.  We know the power of God in our life, we can lovingly hope for that same life-changing, life-sustaining power in other's.  And when people let us down, we do not lose hope, because our hope was never in them to begin with!  See?  It's a matter of perspective.

I'm going to put it one other way and then I promise I'll be done.  Imagine your the one who needs hope. If you are constantly told by those who "love" you that you'll never change, if you're told you'll never get on top of things and that you're basically the loser you've always been - do you feel truly loved? Is that the message of the gospel? Is that how Jesus loves?  He gives great hope that life does not have to be ruled by sin - let's choose to love like Jesus!

Wow...though it's the second to the last ingredient, hope is pretty important, wouldn't you say?

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