Summary: Sixth in a series on the Seven Virtues

Hope - Seven Virtues #6

Romans 5:1-5 and various scriptures

By James Galbraith

Bethel First Baptist Church

June 24, 2001

Romans 5:1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Hope Springs Eternal

The English poet Alexander Pope wrote, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest." But where does man turn when hope dries up?

The director of a medical clinic told of a terminally ill young man who came in for his usual treatment. A new doctor who was on duty said to him casually and cruelly, "You know, don’t you, that you won’t live out the year?"

As the young man left, he stopped by the director’s desk and wept. "That man took away my hope," he blurted out.

"I guess he did," replied the director. "Maybe it’s time to find a new one."

Commenting on this incident, Lewis Smedes wrote, "Is there a hope when hope is taken away? Is there hope when the situation is hopeless? That question leads us to Christian hope, for in the Bible, hope is no longer a passion for the possible. It becomes a passion for the promise."

Hope, simply defined, is a positive attitude toward the future.

Some hopes are based on nothing more than a wish for greener pastures.

Many people buy lottery or raffle tickets hoping that they will win a prize. Most know that they will not, and the odds are always on the side of those hosting the raffle or lottery, but people buy tickets anyway, hoping that they will cash in big someday.

For some buyers hope is little more than a silent wish, unspoken at the time of purchasing the ticket. They may even pretend to not care if they win or not - they call their purchase an act of charity or goodwill.

For others, their hopes in winning consume their thoughts and their pocket books - I’ve seen people buy hundreds of dollars in tickets on a regular basis, and win little to nothing consistently.

The wishful thinking can all too easily mutate into a driving obsession - especially when the thirst for winnings leads the ticket buyer to try other forms of gambling.

Their "hope" of winning becomes their noose for hanging, so hope just for hope’s sake is not always healthy or productive - you have to place your hope in the right thing.

Other hopes are based on our own efforts to improve our lives.

People of all ages take classes at the local college, in order to learn new skills and ideas. Their hopes are as many as those who attend.

Some hope that their studies will translate into marketable job skills,

Some hope that they will find a new hobby or recreation,

and some simply hope to expand their knowledge and appreciation for life.

Students have hopes for the future they want to fulfill, and they are willing to work towards seeing them come to fruit.

Some will find that the skills they learn are indeed useful and productive, others will learn that they’ve spent a lot of time in school without gaining much for their time.

The hope they place in their own efforts is certainly valid - why go to school if you do not hope to learn and grow - but sometime hope placed in our own efforts does not bear the fruit we "hope" for.

And many people just hope that whatever comes is better than what is happening today…

Psychologist William Marston asked three thousand people, "What have you to live for?" He was shocked to discover that 94 percent were simply enduring the present while they waited for the future--waited for something to happen--waited for "next year" --waited for a "better time" --waited for "someone to die" --waited "for tomorrow," unable to see that all anyone ever has is today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow exists only in hope.

The ancient philosophers debated the merits of hope as a virtue - to many it seemed to make men wish for things rather than work for things. Seeking wisdom and courage would make a man smarter and stronger, but trusting in hope rather than effort would make a man wishful and wimpy.

Yet for all this, I still believe that hope is so powerful that it can make the difference between living and dying. Listen to this story…

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