“…remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father…“
and patience of hope
The third and final virtue of the Thessalonians is hope. Hope has to do with the future. The Thessalonians endurance came from their confidence in God’s provisions for eternity.
People who exercise hope do not operate on baseless optimism or wishful thinking. The idea of hope in the Bible is the idea of confidence, assurance and certainty. This person has confidence that God will keep all His promises despite every appearance to the contrary. This kind of hope produces steadfast endurance through trouble. This hope helps the believer bear up under any trial that may come his way.
“For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24).
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope…” (1 Timothy 1:1).
“…looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:13).
Biblical hope is not wishful thinking. “Hope” is a very difficult word to translate into English because it carries the idea of confidence. The English word transmits the idea of wishful thinking. We say, “I hope it does not rain tomorrow.” We mean by that, “I wish it does not rain tomorrow.” Biblical hope is no wish. It does not produce the idea of “I have these wonderful plans that people all over the world will come to Christ. I hope it works out.” No, hope has the idea that we have assurance in the future because of who God is.
The word “patience” comes from two Greek words: under and to remain. A person who has patience is one who remains under, continues under the pressure. This person does not give up no matter what may come his way. This is the quality of perseverance. However, this term does not simply convey unadulterated perseverance but a perseverance that goes beyond resignation to problems. It endures with a quality of life.
Our English word “patience” carries the idea of passiveness or lack of activity. The Greek word for “patience” means fortitude, steadfastness and tenacity. Hope produces tenacity. A person who carries great hope hangs in there. He carries the character of steadfastness.
Hope helps us claim the promises of God. The problems we currently face do not daunt us because we see beyond the moment. People who want to advance the cause of Christ in the world cannot give up. They must possess bulldog stick-to-it- iveness. They must grab hold of what God wants in the world and hold onto it. These people never give up although they may fail many times. They get up and try again. They hang in there. Few people possess this kind of vision.
Perseverance flows from hope.
The quality of life that produces perseverance is confidence in God’s plan for our lives. God’s providence in the present and His prospect for our future, give Christians an edge on others.
“And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18).
Is this operation bootstraps? Is this unadulterated self effort?
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
Are we talking about operation bootstraps when people exercise tenacity? Biblical hope is no sheer human determination based on blind fate. This is hope based on confidence in God and His promises. This is tenacity inspired by hope.
A commodity that Christians have that the vast majority of other people in the world do not have is confidence in the future. Man hates confidence because it gives lie to relativism. Relativism, the idea that nothing is true for sure, is the great hope of the non-believing. The more is the pity. Jesus is the only hope for man. That is fighting words to most people today but it is the truth.
People who carry confidence intimidate many people. They presume that confident people are arrogant. Most people doubt themselves so confident people intimidate them. They fear risks.
On the human level, confidence is a basis for success. Confident people know what they are doing and where they are going. They do not demonstrate sheer superficial confidence based on some vacuous air, “I am a confident person, I will do so and so.” No, they base their confidence on competence, research, and understanding. At the Christian level, we base our confidence on very deep convictions about God’s promises.
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
How many times have people said that something would not work when confident people go out and do it anyway? Confident people generally are not more competent but they believe more. Others around may make them feel inept and incompetent.
Confident people can unknowingly intimidate other people. The problem with people who allow others to intimidate them is pride. Rather than launch out on their own they would rather swim in self-pity. They would rather fight those who are confident rather than initiate their own sphere of influence.