Author: Ron Graham
The Influence of Hope
—Motivated by expectation of reward
The fifth influence that motivates us to obey God is hope. A person without hope cannot be motivated to do good. If a person’s life is hopeless in their eyes, they become discouraged. What we hope for is what keeps us going.
1 The Hope of Heaven Encourages Us to Obey God
- Jesus promises reward. "Great is your reward in heaven". This encourages us to obey God even in the face of adversity (Matthew 5:12). We do not earn this reward. It is given as a free gift (Romans 6:23). But that by no means lessens its power to encourage our obedience to God.
- Hopelessness is next to hell. Only hell itself could be worse than "having no hope and [being] without God in the world"? (Ephesians 2:12). "If we have hope... only in this life... we are of all men most miserable" (1Corinthians 15:19).
- Hope turns despair into enthusiasm. "If we hope for what we do not yet see, then with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (Romans 8:25).
- Paul’s hope an example. Expectation of "the crown of life" motivated him to maintain his faith and obedience (2Timothy 4:7-8).
- Hope motivates work. The plowman, the sower, the thresher, and even the ox, are motivated to work by their hope of sharing in the crop. What would be the point of plowing, sowing, and threshing, if there was no hope of produce? (1Corinthians 9:9-10).
- Hope produces zeal. We live righteously in this present world because we are "looking for the blessed hope" beyond. This hope makes us "zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:11-14).
- Hope produces dedication. Paul invoked hope in "the mercies of God" to urge people on in dedicated service to God (Romans 12:1).
2 Hope Can fail
- Hope can become idle. It must be put into practice (1John 3:1-10).
- Hope can become selfish. Example: sons of Zebedee (Mark 10:35-41).
- Hope can become materialistic as in the popular "prosperity doctrine" (Philippians 3:18-20, Colossians 1:22-23)
3 Seeking the Full Assurance of Hope
- Set your mind on things above (Colossians 3:1-4).
- Don’t let hope get lazy. "Give diligence to realize the full assurance of hope until the end" (Hebrews 6:11).
- Lay hold of hope. God sets the hope before us, but we have to "lay hold" of it and make it the anchor for our soul (Hebrews 6:17-20).
- Share your hope. "Be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you..." (1Peter 3:15).