Love in Action

Thursday: The Hope of Glory

Romans 12:10-13 In this week’s study, we’ll look at what love does, and why believers are uniquely able to offer consistent love to those around them.
The Hope of Glory

As we continue to learn about love in Romans 12, verse 12 introduces three more items, and these three go together. This might be paraphrased, “In so far as we have cause to hope, let us be joyful; in so far as we have cause of pain, let us hold out; in so far as the door of prayer is open to us, let us continue to use it.”1 

In the Bible, hope always has to do with what God has promised but which we have not seen or received yet. In particular it refers to that “blessed hope” which is “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13) and to the fact that then when He appears “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The fact that we do not see this yet is important, for it means that as Christians we will have our eyes fixed on invisible, spiritual things, like Abraham, who did not set his affection on the things of this life but who “was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). 

More than anything else, this is what sets Christians apart from those around us who are merely secular. Others have their horizons bounded by what is seen. Like Carl Sagan, for them “the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” The horizons of Christians are not cut off like this. They are wider even than the universe, for Christians look to God, hope in God and look forward expectantly to an eternity with Him. 

And what a difference this makes in daily life. Robert Haldane says: 

The hope of the glory of God, in which the apostle here affirms that Christians ought to rejoice, is provided as an important part of the believer’s armor a helmet to cover his head to defend him against the attacks of spiritual enemies (1 Thess. 5:8). It supports him when [he is] ready to be cast down…. It soothes the bitterness of affliction when the believer is resting on the promises of God. In prosperity it elevates his affections, and fixing his expectation of the glory that shall be revealed, disengages him from the love of this world…. It comforts him in the prospect of death.2

While waiting for the glory that is still to be revealed, the Christian sometimes suffers persecution or affliction. Therefore, Paul adds that “in respect to affliction” the one who trusts God should be “patient.” Not just resigned in a fatalistic, stoic sense, accepting what cannot be changed. But waiting confidently for God’s own resolution of the problem, knowing that He will reward the good and punish evil in His own time. 

Meanwhile, we should not be overly confident that we are among the good or that our actions, especially those that are criticized, are without any evil motives or are beyond reproach. Rather, we must be careful to “make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) and examine ourselves to see whether we truly love Jesus Christ and are serving Him or are merely pursuing our own interests. 

1Godet attributes this paraphrase to Hofmann (F. Godet, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, trans. A. Cusin (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1892), vol. 2, 297. 

2Robert Haldane, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (MacDill AFB: MacDonald, 1958), 566-567.

Study Questions
  1. What is the biblical concept of hope?
  2. How do unbelievers understand the idea of hope?
  3. How does the Christian respond to difficult times? Why?

Reflection: How does a Christian’s motivation to show love differ from that of an unbeliever?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “Love Letters from the Lord.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

For Further Study: James Boice’s published sermons on Romans 12:1-2 are available in paperback and would be a great topic for a Sunday school class or group study. The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering Renewing Your Mind in a Mindless World for 20% off the regular price.

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