“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love…” - 1 Corinthians 13:8
The second gift or virtue that “remains” or lasts forever is HOPE. What does hope mean to the Christian? How does the bible define hope? And, how can my HOPE stretch to the NEXT LEVEL? These are some of the questions we are going to study in this article.
Hope is essential for us as believers to have in order to “count it all joy” in our trials. But many of us have never truly understood what the bible defines as HOPE. Many of us think we have HOPE, but it may not be the kind of HOPE the bible talks about. Let’s begin by taking a look at what HOPE is NOT.
Hope is not: “I hope my boss gives me a raise” or “I hope I find a wife or a husband.” Now I know many of your heads just went “TILT.” Honestly, so many of us have thought that this is what it means to have hope: to long for something deeply in our hearts.
But Church, listen: biblical hope is not a “hope-so” - it is a “know-so.” It isn’t wishing for the best. Wishing for the best is not hope at all – it is really nothing more than “wishful thinking.”
Lee Strobel, in his book “The Case for Hope” explains the difference this way:
“Wishful thinking is when we try to change reality with our thoughts, attempting to hope things into or out of existence. It’s when we blow out the candles on our birthday cake and say to ourselves, “I hope I stay healthy for another year.” It’s when we pick up the Wall Street Journal and say, “I hope my stocks have gone up again.” Or it’s when we turn on the TV and say, “I hope my team wins!” Wishful thinking is an almost superstitious feeling that maybe, somehow, some way, our sincere desires will help things go in the direction we want them to, even though we really don’t have any power to make them happen. Sometimes we engage in wishful thinking so much that we begin to convince ourselves that something’s true even though it isn’t.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but what he just said really spoke to me. So many times I have heard people do this very thing. Wishing for something so much - calling it HOPE- and believing just because they want it so bad it must be GOD. I’m sure we can all admit to being guilty of doing this without having had a direct word from God, and direction from His Word.
Here’s the truth: It isn’t happening just because you or I say so…it happens when GOD SAYS SO, and HOW GOD SAYS SO!
Hope is not based on a feeling or an emotion. It isn’t “waiting to see what happens,” and hoping that it turns out well. Hope is having knowledge of the facts. HOPE must be grounded in the TRUTH. To have a biblical hope is to have a sure anchor for your soul. It’s not hoping it doesn’t rain because you planned a picnic. Beloved that is not hope. That is wishful thinking. Human hope is no match for true biblical hope. It’s fleeting and is bound to disappoint.
So let’s take a look at a Christian’s definition of hope…
A Christian’s definition of hope is far superior to that of the world. Instead of wishing or hoping for something to happen, a believer knows that their hope is solid, based on concrete evidence because it is grounded in the Word of God. A Christian’s faith is HINGED on this kind of HOPE:
Hebrews 11:1 says that FAITH is the “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” It is a hope that believes like faith - a faith that cannot be moved by circumstances or what we see, because the focus of BIBLICAL HOPE is on God and His faithfulness and not on us!
I like how one minister said it: “Hope is not a "when," or a "how," or a "where." Hope is a "Who."
Biblical HOPE finds itself in the embodiment of Jesus Christ. He is the reason for HOPE and the power of HOPE. Christ in you is your HOPE of GLORY (Colossians 1:27). Biblical HOPE is anchored in your FAITH in the GOSPEL!
The Apostle Paul wrote here about the faith, hope, and love connection in Colossians 1:2-5:
2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you.
Colossians reveals that true biblical hope comes by means of the gospel.
Several times in Scripture, the Apostle Paul links faith, hope and love together. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, he writes about "your work of faith," "your labor of love," and "your patience of hope." In 1 Corinthians 13, "Now these three remain faith, hope, and love….”
It is very important to recognize that these three virtues, faith, love and hope, are related to one another. These virtues are the mark what we could well call authentic Christians. If you are a true Christian, if you are one of the "holy and faithful brothers" - you have faith and love which spring from hope, and that hope is found (or anchored) in the gospel. If your HOPE is anchored in the GOSPEL then you can NEVER be without HOPE - because that kind of HOPE is not a “hope-so”- it is a “know-so.”
I have HOPE because I KNOW the ONE who HOLDS MY FUTURE! The important thing is to notice that hope produces faith, and faith in turn grows into love. I heard a bible teacher put it this way:
“Hope is the root, faith is the plant, and love is the fruit.
Biblical hope as a “root” shows us that hope is foundational. Having our HOPE properly placed affects how we believe (FAITH) and how we live (LOVE).
So, what produces hope?
We’ll study this and more in part two of this article so be sure check back for the next installment.