TO CHEW ON: "For it is written in the law of Moses, 'You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.' For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope." 1 Corinthians 9:9,10
Hope has always been a vague concept to me. In a recent TV sermon on hope* teacher Charles Price described it in a way I could relate to as something lacking in confidence, full of uncertainty, ambiguity, tentative, vague.
However, he illustrated hope's importance with stories from the life of Viktor Frankl. This Austrian psychiatrist who survived Hitler's death camps observed that it wasn't only lack of food and the unspeakable conditions that killed fellow prisoners. Many died from a lack of hope.
Paul talks about hope here as he argues for his right to be paid as a minister of the gospel. Using the metaphor of farming (where all who work for the crop, from the person who plows to the one who harvests, indeed, even the ox who pulls the plow, have a right to be supported during the process), he pictures himself as one of the workers in the process of harvesting souls for God's Kingdom. Both types of farming are vocations based on hope.
Reaping a harvest from our efforts for God is only one of the areas we, as Christ followers, live in hope. A short Bible survey on hope shows:
- We hope in God's word - Psalm 119:74; Romans 15:4.
- We hope to be saved - Romans 8:24.
- Our hope is grounded in the gospel (Colossians 1:23), guaranteed by Christ's resurrection - 1 Peter 1:3.
- We hope to live again after physical death - Acts 24:15.
- We hope in Jesus' return - Titus 2:13.
- We understand the basis of our hope, are confident in it, and ready to explain it to anyone who asks - 1 Peter 3:15.
- Our hope keeps us from despair during difficulties - 2 Corinthians 4:8.
- Our hope impacts the way we live - 1 John 3:3.
As I consider all the ways that hope supports my life, my opinion of it is rising. I'm beginning to see how it ranks, along with faith and love, as one of the things that lasts (1 Corinthians 13:13).
What about you? On what do you base your hope? What is its state today?
PRAYER: Dear God, in the midst of my life where I encounter failure and frustrations, where others let me down, I disappoint myself, and things don't turn out as I had hoped, help me to anchor my life on these bedrock hopes that are rooted in You and will affect how I spend eternity. Amen.
* "Living In Hope," a talk delivered on the Living Truth TV show by Charles Price, January 11, 2015.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.