Love always Hopes!
When God tells us that love always hopes, then we should be assured He will give us a future. We should be confident that when things are going bad, they will always get better, and that there is hope because our circumstances will always change. We should never lose hope. Because God loves us so much, He always provides hope for us. God is patiently working in us, and when we understand what God has truly done for us, we should have as much hope as we could ever need. We need to see the potential, and how we can bring our relationship with our spouses to a deeper level of love and commitment. Love will see the potential in other people and what they can accomplish and become, and not hold them back due to our jealously or hurts.
Authentic Love always is enduring and points to the future!
Contexts and Background:
This passage is about a love that accepts and hopes in people who are undeserving of it, as God dispenses His mercy upon us. This is inserted in between protects and perseveres in that we are tolerant and accept people, even endure those we may not like in order to demonstrate real effectual love, thereby treating others with respect, kindness, and honesty. This is what Paul was trying to get these Corinthians to understand, that the good essence of relationship is what makes us likable, enduring, and builds the church, thus showing a glimpse of what God does on a grand scale. God shows us His faith and hope; we reciprocate, passing it on to others. Therefore, we can believe in the best and hope in the best. In contrast, the Corinthians were basically doing the opposite.
Commentary-Word and Phrase Meanings:
· Love. Here, real love is optimistic and cultivates growing relationships while repairing damaged ones. It protects us from and helps us deal with disappointments because we will have the best expectations for things to turn out well with others. This love becomes the proof of our salvation. How and what Jesus did in us in regenerating our heart, mind, and soul becomes the touchstone of our profession of faith in Christ. Love is hope and thus not forced upon us; it is a sacrifice and an offering we receive by Christ's given work of redemption that we accept by our faith. We are not adhering to a code of conduct, but a relationship with our Lord that is filled and infused with love! Real love only comes from a life that is transformed and renewed by what Christ has done for us! We can't grow in the faith by a hope that is centered on our desires or is seeking some kind of spiritual encounter; rather, it comes by knowing, trusting, and obeying Christ as LORD. We are to realize Who He is and what He has done for us and then respond in appreciation, trust, and obedience, fueling our hope, our confidence in Christ, and helps us be optimistic to others around us. Too many Christians have a skewed idea of love that is based on our sinful nature and media, and not His nature and principles. Such thinking and behavior equates a life that is meaningless and produces little to no fruit (Psalm 31:24; 33:22; 71:14; Jer. 3:22; 13:33-35; Hos. 14:4; Zeph. 3:17; Rom. 12:12; 15:1-3; Eph. 4:1-16; Col. 4:7-18; Heb. 6:11-12; 12:2; 18-20; 17:7; 2 Pet. 3:14-18).
· Always / never loses. Means "all" and is set in hyperbole language to emphasize the veracity of love's unlimited and unmerited makeup. Here, the rhetoric structure points us to optimism that is coupled with reason and faith. Thus, we can give the benefit of the doubt to others without being overly suspicious or spiteful. Even though love has no limits, it does have a "yield sign" to not be deceived or endure abuses and manipulations, so we do not need to be gullible or unreasonable. This is to show we can have confidence that God is at work, while we can also be realistic and discerning. When we model love as continuous, it becomes infectious and points to God's redemptive and restorative plan and uses us to exhibit His grace.
· Hopes / hopeful / hopeth all things. Meaning being optimistic and positive and not critical or condescending. This is a forward look, as in the awareness and work of our Lord in our souls and on to others around us. It is looking at the positive and the bright side, basking in God's Son of Light and not in the darkness of humanity and all of its pessimism, cynicism, and despair. It lives in the present as it looks outward to others so we have clarity and confidence in what is good and could be good in others. This love is the image of God and the profession of the Christian. Thus, we can take our assurance that we have in Christ and be more assured that He is at work in us and in others so we are not so distrustful and suspicious or give up unless we have to. What we have in Christ can not only be a display, it can be a gift, which gives us certainty and confidence. This also ties to faith, because when we run low on faith, we can cling to hope and then we can glean more faith. So, do not give up on hope, because love does not (Job 28:12-19; Psalm 19:10; 119:14, 72,127,162; Prov. 3:13-15; Isa. 33:6; John 3:16; Rom. 8:24; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Cor. 8:13; 9:10-12, 23; James 2:14; 3:17; 1 John 3:14).
· If hope and trust are hard for you and real love is still at your door step but not in your heart and mind or practice, consider this: Christ suffered and endured the ultimate evil for being the Ultimate Good and doing the ultimate good for us. He is our example in life and love and upon whom our eyes must always be focused! We are called to be enthusiastic and faithful-and we can be! It is far more important how we come across to others than anything we say to them; if we are not what we should be, the message of love, our attitude of love, and our understanding of love will be compromised and distorted!
· The bottom line for this aspect of love to work in and though us is this: Christ, our living Hope that will never fade away! Our hope is that we have God's blessing, and in how lovingly He goes out of His way to redeem us. This does not mean wishing or just thinking positively; rather, we can have the confidence and conviction that our living God keeps His promises and secures us in Him. It is the assurance-and fact-that God has redeemed us, will bless us, and will care for us and we can take that to the streets of our lives. We need to be reminded of what we have and who we are in Christ. If not, we will soon forget and replace His direction either with our frailty and pride or with the ways of the world (1 Pet. 1: 3-21; 3:15).
Devotional Thoughts and Applications:
"On the whole, God's love for us is a much safer subject to think about than our love for Him."… "It is natural to love them that love us, but it is supernatural to love them that hate us." C.S. Lewis.
We are called to allow our love to be the explanation for our lives in Christ, but we cannot do that if we are not showing the work of Christ. We can't do that when we are consumed by our hurts, fears, past failures, or apathy so that we cannot see other's hurts or see their injustice. When we do overcome our past and embrace our fear-and Christ will enable us to do that-we will feel and dispense real love; it will always be in the parameters of God's Word, not in feelings but in the Fruit of the Spirit. If we fret and fight, we demean our Lord who Himself did not even argue when He was persecuted. If we can't overcome our setbacks, our efforts of making Christ real in us or known to others will not only be wasted, but they could also have a negative effect, doing more harm than good. By the way, He already is real in you as a Christian; we just become blinded to Him. See Him, know Him, do as he says. Then, we can embrace His call, we can even love those who are unlovable, because we were once unlovable and He loved us. We can even learn to respect, listen, and be gentle so the real Gospel message goes out from us. Love will set our tone not only in how we are, but also in how and what we say.
Christ is Sufficient and Supreme. What more can we need? Thus, the call is to fill up with Him and not with the ways of the world. This kind of faith trusts in our Lord; and if we can trust, then we can hope! Therefore, we can look at whatever situation we face and say this is good, this will better me, or this will help me. I may not understand it, but I can trust God; He is there and He will carry me through it! We are called to declare our situation, whatever it may be, as joy! Because, it is not a question of if people will disappoint us, because they will-just as we will disappoint them. We will have problems and confrontations, but when we face them, how will we act? There is no escape from living in a sinful world that hurts us, but we have the choice to not be the hurters who hurt. Instead, we can be the ones who have been hurt yet rise above it to be the healers of the hearts of others (Gal. 3:26; Col. 3:1-4)!
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
Read these two passages again in different translations (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; 1 John 4: 7-12)
1. Discuss your thoughts on this aspect of love.
2. Give a positive example.
3. Give a negative example.
4. How is this type of love working in you?
5. Why is this love not working in you?
6. What blocks this love from being exhibited in you?
7. What would it take to get this love working in you?
8. What are you willing to do about it?
1. Why does real love have hope?How do hope and trust go together?
2. What gets in your way of allowing God's empowerment and Fruit to infuse and use you?
3. Why should you be assured God will give you a future? How does this help you be confident, when things are going badly, that they will always get better?
4. What can you do to feel and really have more love? What helps do you need to see more hope and reassurance of faith?
5. If you really have hope working in you, how does this help your faith? How does this help you through your circumstances, knowing that they will always change?
6. How is hope coupled with reason and faith? Why should you never lose hope?
7. How do these characteristics of love showcase God's great attributes? How do they showcase your role and effort in your world and relationships?
8. How do you balance the optimism to give the benefit of the doubt to someone with not being overly suspicious or spiteful?
9. Do you have confidence that God is at work in you? What about those you do not like? How can you be optimistic and positive rather than critical or condescending?
10. People tend to move toward people who encourage them and move away from those who tear down and hurt them. So, what can you do to bring Christ into others' hurt and troubled lives?
11. Does Hope make you feel that God is patiently working in you and others around you? What can you do to better understand what God has truly done for you? How would this give you more optimism and confidence?
12. How can you see the potential of what you can do and how you can bring more patience and hope to your relationships? How would this affect your spouse, friends, co-workers, and others and bring them into a deeper level of love and commitment? What will you do about this?
© 2010, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org/