Rightly Fixing One’s Hope
Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1:10-13; 1 Timothy 6:17-18
I don’t play the lottery, so my odds of winning are not very good. But I was entered by the state into a recent lottery for those who had gotten their Covid vaccinations. As an incentive to get folks vaccinated, the State of Oregon held a lottery in which $10,000 was to be distributed to a winner from each county in the state. Our county decided to mirror what the state was doing, and planned to award up to $20,000 to five lottery winners. I figured that in a small county like ours, my odds of winning were pretty good. But apparently they weren’t good enough.
We all have hopes and dreams of this and that and sometimes they come to pass and sometimes they don’t. Most of our hopes have to do with earthly things, some of them virtuous, some not so much. Each of us could probably make a list of various things we are hoping for. Both passages in today’s Bible reading speak of the need for us to focus our hope on one particular thing.
Recall that Peter was writing to believers who were enduring persecution. Their profession of faith in Christ was oftentimes accompanied by threats and abuse and the loss of things they held dear, like friends, or homes, or jobs, or even sometimes their very lives. Peter wrote to them about the hope they possessed in Jesus, a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). In Him they possessed an “inheritance that is imperishable, and undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:4). Their promised inheritance was not just wishful thinking, it was guaranteed to them, by God, who is always faithful, and in His promises, which never fail.
Peter admonished his readers to be “preparing their minds for action” with respect to their hope (1 Peter 1:13). Recall that hope is an attitude, a way of thinking about things. The KJV translated the phrase this way, “gird up the loins of your mind.” In those days folks often wore long flowing robes, which typically served them well, but could get in the way if they were in a hurry to get somewhere. Then the robes would need to be gathered up. The thought here then is of reigning in one’s thoughts so that they are focused on the one thing of preeminent concern, seeking to maintain an attitude singularly focused on the hope of Christ’s return (1 Peter 1:13; 2 Corinthians 10:5).
How are we to set our minds to this hope? We’ve allies in that process. The Spirit of God is ever-working to direct our hearts and thoughts to Jesus. To the extent that we are being led by Him, He’s the freedom to do that work in us (Romans 15:13). He works through the Word of God, to the extent the Word richly dwells within us, our thoughts will be inclined to the promise of Jesus’ return (Colossians 3:16). And we each have a role in encouraging one another to look heavenward, as we see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).
Let’s face it, when it comes to our Christian lives, life is filled with all kinds of distractions. We tend to fill our minds with hopes related to the here and now. Some of those hopes are even virtuous, but almost all of our earth-bound hopes come with no guarantee. There is a heavenward bent to the promises of God! And that’s where we need to focus our attention. No matter what happens now, grace–unimaginable grace–will be brought to us in Christ’s return. That promise is guaranteed. Nothing can work to steal it away. “By God’s power (we) are (even now) being guarded through faith” until its fulfillment (1 Peter 1:5).
Lawrence Richards commented on the matter this way, “Too often we “set our hope” on some near, immediate “grace”. “Lord, I’d like a new job.” “Lord, heal my illness.” “Lord, if only You’ll let us get this home of our own.” “Father, I know this marriage is just what I need to make me happy!” We may indeed get what we ask and hope for in this life. But any earthly prospect can disappoint, and every earthly possession be torn from our grasp. Only when we set our hope “fully” on the grace that will be ours when Jesus comes will we be immune to life’s losses.”
The Promises of God All Lean Heavenward and so Should Our Hope
Heavenly Father. We praise and thank You for the many blessings we’ve received. We were blind, but now we see. We were lost, but then you found us. We were dead in our sins, but now we’ve been made alive in Christ! And in that You’ve caused us to be born-again to a living hope! We’ve all experienced the disappointment of dashed dreams, thank You for the unassailable hope we possess in You. May Your Spirit work within us, through the Word, that our hearts and minds might be set on the one hope that cannot fail. Grant us that through eyes of faith we might even now behold the glory of the grace to be brought to us when we shall see Jesus! In these uncertain days, may this certain and living hope shine forth from within us, that others might be encouraged to look to the source from which it came! Amen.