Heavenly Blessings Associate Professor (Theological Studies)
Paul mentions “love, faith, hope” as the three virtues in the life of the believer (1 Corinthians 13:13). He also prays constantly for the believers in Thessalonica, “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NIV) There is no doubt that it is essential for Christians to have hope. While most churches frequently teach the lessons of love and faith, perhaps we should also learn more about the virtue of hope and endurance. Paul specifically tells us that there are three attributes of hope:
“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:20-21, NIV) The scope of our hope should not limited to personal gain or loss. We should extend our hope to embrace the welfare of others, and even the whole creation. Our hope is to drive out the dominion of sin from this world. Only when we understand how sin has enslaved our world can we truly comprehend the meaning of the hope granted to us.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” (Romans 8:24, NIV) If our hope is the redemption of the whole world, how can we expect to find our dreams realized during this life? If someone should ask: Who can sustain such a hopeless hope? Paul would say: Well said! Our hope in Christ has never been a product of human power. The fact that we can hold on to it is because we are inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:15, 26, NIV)
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” (2 Corinthians 3:12, NIV) Believers should not hide this hope in their hearts. Instead, they need to proclaim to the world through actions and words. When we are set out to challenge the evil power, we may have to let go of personal gains within our grasps, or even bear all kinds of persecutions and slanders. Paul’s hardships at his time could testify to this (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, NIV) – that our dream in Christ is not merely a daydream – for we dare boldly to pay the price for realizing our dream. We know for sure that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV)