I am on vacation for the rest of the month and therefore away from blogging. In effort to continue to provide some content I have asked the other elders at Emmaus Bible Church if I could post the notes from our weekly confession of sin on Sunday morning. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. In these posts I will post the material from 1 Cor 13 reminds us of what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Each day will unpack a section of the passage. May these serve you just as they served us at Emmaus!
1 Corinthians 13:7c ”…love hopes all things…”
The third of four clauses in 1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “…love hopes all things…” It is closely related to the previous clause “…love believes all things…” and yet distinct in its own way. Last week we learned that to “believe all things” means that we assume the best in others, that we are willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, that we are willing to overlook past sins and failures and trust that God is at work in them.
The difference is that “believing all things” has an eye to the present, to “hope all things” has an eye to the future. This word we see translated as “hope” is the Greek word “elpizo” is also translated as “trust” or “expect” depending on your translation. It is the Christian “hope”, not the finger-crossing wishing upon a start of the world, but the certain expectation of God’s people. It usually has reference to the believers confidence in salvation, as in 1 Tim 4:10 in which Paul says that “we have placed our hope in the living God who is the Savior of all people”, or in John 5:45 in which Jesus says that the Jews had tragically set their “hope” on Moses who now accused them. Often enough though it is used of human affairs, like in Romans 15:24 in which Paul says that he “hopes” to see the Roman believers on his way to Spain, or in Philippians 2:19 when Paul “hoped” so send Timothy his friends.
Here in 1 Cor 13, as we saw last week, the context is not only the realm of human affairs, as opposed to the “hope” of salvation, but it has to do with our regard for others. If we are to “hope all things” it means that we invest the same kind of confident expectation that we usually reserve for God, Himself, in the people of God. To “hope all things” means to confidently expect the long-term spiritual growth of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
To “hope all things” means that we never consider another to be a lost cause. It means that we never give up on each other, even when we see one another fall and fall hard. Christians believe that everyone that God calls will see maturity and eventually glorification. Hoping all things yields a willingness to encourage each other as fellow runners of the same race. Christians are determined that nobody is ever left behind. We understand that we are all works in progress and have confidence that we all are becoming more like Christ, even if some days it’s pretty hard to see.
When we fail to “hope all things” we consider failures of sin to be a final judgment. It is betrayed in quickness to write other off. We have critical notions of others and when they meet our expectations of their weakness, we cross them off our list and push them out of our lives. Are you like me? Do you make your mind up about some people? Do you get tired of others doing the “same old things” and just “move on”, too? Are your negative opinions of others hardened and resistant to change? Do you see everything some people do through the same critical filter?
When we fail to “hope all things” we separate. We separate because we feel we have to move on, as if the offender has fallen out of our boat and won’t recover. And what is most awful about losing hope is that is can be so silent. We usually won’t even bother to confront them in hopes of producing repentance, simply receding from them, quietly, withdrawing from their orbit. We even convince ourselves that we are actually “covering their sin in love” by staying quiet.
Like failing to “believe all things”, failure to “hope all things” is unbelief; it is unbelief in the nature of God’s work. It is unbelief that God finishes what He starts, as though He forget or walks away. We’ve made God in our image, haven’t we? Walking away is what WE do, not God.