Who’s Stoking Your Hope?
Do you need more faith and love in your life? Read on because you’ve got a faith-love generator at your disposal. And surprisingly, it’s name is hope.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, Colossians 1:3-8
Surprise! Faith and Love Spring From Hope
We are all familiar with the triangle of faith, hope, and love, with love being described as “the greatest of these.” But did you realize Paul says faith and love both spring from hope? Who would have thought such a humble, overlooked characteristic (hope) could be so powerful as to generate faith and love?
So What Is Hope?
Merriam Webster dictionary describes hope as “desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.” Hope is the convergence of values (what we cherish), pleasure (desire), and the future (anticipation). For the Christian, hope is not wishful thinking but absolute confidence in the fulfillment of God’s promises, eventually culminating in Heaven. Because hope involves desire and anticipation, it necessarily engages the emotions. It is possible you’ve been told that emotions are sinful and you can’t rely on them. While there is some truth to the unreliability of our emotions, what makes hope so powerful is that it involves our emotions in healthy, helpful, God-centered ways. And we all say, “Amen!” to that!
How to Get Hope
Hope is fueled by looking at the gospel and understanding the provisions purchased by Christ on our behalf. Many of these provisions are daily, here and now provisions. Some, such as sinlessness, are for Heaven. Either way, hope increases as we nurture our desire for these things by seeing their value and by anticipating God will keep His promises to fulfill them. Think about it for a moment. If you are facing a difficult day, hope happens when you ponder that the cross of Christ purchased your access to God. You can go to Him and make your requests known, fully assured of His promise to hear and graciously give you all you need. Spending time meditating on the promises of God provided us in the death of Christ fuels hope; with it, faith and love also rise. It is important to note that “a true understanding of God’s grace” is what increased the fruit bearing in the Colossian believer’s lives. God’s grace is the center of the gospel. Perhaps you grew up in a religious home where “gospel” really meant “morality.” Or maybe “the gospel” was a strict set of rules and task-mastering. It is clear the Colossians had some “gospel” baggage (the Galatians did too), and Paul states that the gospel is a message of grace. When we truly understand that, it changes everything. Hope explodes when we understand this good news!
Learned From Epaphras
Perhaps this is my personal favorite part of this passage: “You learned it from Epaphras.” Isn’t that beautiful? We should all have people in our lives who are teaching us and reminding us of the gospel of grace in ways that stoke our hope. We should also be that person in someone else’s life. As we close today, answer this: Who is stoking your hope by drawing you back time and again to the message of God’s grace and all it entails? Seek out “Epaphrases” who will do this for you, whether they be online or in person. And finally, whose hope are you stoking?
About the Author
Arabah Joy is wife to Jackson, adoptive and biological mom to 4 little ones, and cross culture worker to East Asia. Her adventures span far and wide, from eating pig snouts to giving birth in three different Asian countries. Mostly though, she is a broken woman redeemed by grace. She writes to showcase the trustworthiness of Jesus midst the barren places of life. Her books include Energy Explosion: A 7 Day Guide to Jumpstart Your Energy, Complete, and The Family Table. You can find her at ArabahJoy.com.