Hope that Shapes Us

Have you ever noticed that when we talk about our hope in Christ, we tend to relegate it to a future sentimentality? I mean, we do want to be with Him in heaven, but it seems so distant and separate from how we live now. Our hope doesn’t have to be separate. The Psalmist’s hope wasn’t isolated from how he lived, and we ought to follow his example.

The section of Psalm 119:113-120 is a unique set of verses, but the unifying thought is the hope that the Psalmist has in the Lord. He was going through a very difficult and dark period, yet he didn’t despair. He had a steady hope that was revealed in the Word of God (v. 113). He hated “those who are double-minded,” meaning he would not become a close companion of them. Why? Because a “double minded man” is one who is “unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). In contrast, the Psalmist loved God’s Word, Because Scripture does not change (cf. Psalm 119:89).

Through the Bible, the Psalmist knew that the Lord was a refuge. “You are my hiding place and my shield,” he testified (v. 114). His hope wasn’t in a creed, a human relationship, or anything of this life—he hoped in the Lord alone. He knew God would not abandon him, and he asked God to hold him up. He wanted God to preserve him so he could walk in a way that would please the Lord (vv. 116, 117). He hoped in God’s sustaining power now, and he had hope that God would indeed prevail over “the wicked” (vv. 118, 119). So sure was he of the Lord’s victory, he even spoke of it in the past tense. God’s kingdom was coming, and the Psalmist was certain beyond any doubt. He had a firm hope in the Lord, the Source of his hope.

Through the fullness of revelation in the New Testament, we know more about our hope, understanding that it rests in Jesus Himself. We know that we have our sins forgiven, that “He is able…to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25). We also know that Christ has prepared us “a place” in heaven (John 14:1-3). Our hope is that through Christ, we are accepted before the Father now, and one day we will dwell with God forever face to face.

Like the Psalmist, our hope impacts us today. Hebrews 6:19-20 says, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us.” Though we go through storms and great difficulties, we do have an anchor. We may not know how God will bring us through a tempest, but we know He will “never” leave us (Hebrews 13:5, 6). We look forward to “our blessed hope” of Christ’s return, and in expectation, we turn from sin and live for Jesus now (Titus 2:11-14 ESV). We know we serve the holy God, and we live in hope of physically dwelling with Him one day.

That’s what the Psalmist did. Because he took refuge in the Lord, his hope, he separated himself from what would drag him away. He would not keep close companionship with “evildoers” in order “that I may observe the commandments of my God” (Psalm 119:115). The Psalmist wasn’t advocating a complete withdraw from unbelievers, but he was teaching that we need to have fellow believers as closest friends and advisors. This also extends to things we are involved with, even if they are not actually sin. Hebrews 12:1 calls us to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We are only following Christ’s example as He “endured the cross” in expectation of “the joy set before Him (v. 2). In expectation of our hope, we strive after Christ and serve Him now.

We could go on and on with examples. For instance, consider how Moses turned from “the passing pleasures of sin” and followed the Lord, “for he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26). The point is that we do have a hope—a firm hope—in Christ. We are certain that for all those who believe in Jesus, our sins are completely forgiven. As part of that hope, we eagerly expect His return and our entrance into glory. Yet that hope impacts how we live today. We take comfort in the midst of trials, knowing that God is with us and is conforming us to the image of Christ. We also turn from sin and live for Jesus, our holy Savior. Our hope is not mere sentimentality. It is certain, and it should shape how we live today.

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