Stand Fast in Hope
A Peanuts cartoon shows Lucy and Linus watching TV. Lucy tells Linus: “Go get me a glass of water.” Linus questions: “Why should I do anything for you? You never do anything for me…”
Lucy responds: “On your seventy-fifth birthday, I’ll bake you a cake.” Linus goes to the kitchen, saying to himself: “Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to…”
Hope. Paul only uses the word “hope” once in the letter of Galatians, in 5:5: “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” I want to pull this verse apart, to expose this verse in the light of the whole letter of Galatians, in order to be encouraged to stand fast in hope, having something to look forward to. Let’s feed on God’s word…
HOPE IS AVAILABLE “THROUGH THE SPIRIT”
First, Paul points out that hope is available through the Spirit or by the Spirit. This is the Holy Spirit, of course. Paul mentions the Holy Spirit 16 times in this letter.
Observe what Paul writes about the Spirit in 3:2-5. The Holy Spirit began their lives as they were born of water and the Spirit (John 3:3-5) and the Holy Spirit would perfect their lives as they continued following the message revealed by the Spirit, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Holy Spirit, 3:14, is available to all people once they have become “sons of God” (4:6). So, Paul says in Galatians 5:16, 18 that we are to be led by the Spirit and to walk by the Spirit. The fruit of that type of lifestyle, a lifestyle guided by the Holy Spirit, is mentioned in 5:22-23. “Hope” is not mentioned here as a “fruit” of the Spirit but Paul says here in our text (5:5) that hope is a “fruit” made available by the Spirit.
HOPE IS AVAILABLE “BY FAITH”
Faith is grabbing ahold of something you cannot see (Heb. 11:1). Paul uses “faith” 23 times in this letter! In 1:23, Paul uses “faith” as a synonym for the Gospel message. He preached “the faith.”
We are saved, not through obedience to the law of Moses (2:16) but through our faith in Jesus Christ. It is not just faith expressed when we first become Christians but we “live” by faith in the Son of God (2:20). In Galatians 6:10, Paul refers to Christians as the “the household of the faith.”
Out of the 23 times Paul use the word “faith” in Galatians, 15 times are found just in chapter 3. Read the paragraph that has the most dense concentration of the word “faith” in Galatians: 3:22-26.
So it is with us today. We can’t see the forgiveness of sins. We can’t see the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We can’t see Jesus being with us even when times are difficult. But, by faith we grasp these facts, and others, based on what we know of God and what we know from His word. Relative to our hope, we can’t see heaven but we grasp the fact that it is there and we live in hope to receive it. This hope is available “by faith.”
HOPE IS “EAGERLY AWAITED”
Now that’s the question, isn’t it? Do we eagerly await this hope? How badly do you want heaven? How eagerly do you wait for it?
Would I rather be with Rachel, or with Jesus? “Heaven can wait.” Would I rather graduate college or be with Jesus? “Heaven can wait.” Would I rather travel the world or be with Jesus? “Heaven can wait.”
We do not have the power of life and death in our hands; we cannot commit suicide in order to be with Jesus faster. Death occurs in its own time. But, do we live our lives eagerly waiting for the hope that is to come? Does that hope inform our decisions, motivate our lives, empower our days?
HOPE IS “OF RIGHTEOUSNESS”
I’ve mentioned that this is the only passage in Galatians that uses the word “hope.” Paul uses the word “righteous” or “righteousness” five times in Galatians and all the other verses show that we are made “righteous,” not through the law of Moses but through faith in Jesus Christ.
“Righteous” means the quality or condition of being right in the eyes of God. It means in some way, you have met God’s expectations, not perfectly, but faithfully and sincerely. Paul writes that (his favorite example of faith), Abraham, believed God and was made right with God based on his faith (3:6, quoting from Genesis 15:6).
What that tells me is that because Abraham had been walking by faith, believing the promises of God even though he couldn’t see them, then God considered him righteous. He forgave Abraham of his sins and said, in effect, to Abraham: “You are right with me.”
That is the “hope” of our Christian lives – to be right with God. Am I okay with God? We enjoy righteousness now, through the blood of Christ, but we continue to fight with Satan and temptations. But one day, our hope is that we will be finally, completely, and irrevocably right with God. That is our hope.
That is why we worship. That gives us something to look forward to. That is eternal life (6:8).
Are you eagerly awaiting that righteousness? Are you eagerly awaiting that hope? Do you live like you are? Do you stand fast in hope? Doubts arise but hope remains secure. Fears assail us but hope remains fixed. Worries penetrate our hearts but hope remains steadfast.
With your hope securely set in Jesus Christ, live your life with eager expectation of righteousness.