Paul had a lot to say about hope in his letter to the Romans. Following his commentary on the life of Abraham in chapter 4, he continues on the topic of hope in chapter 5, saying:
We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 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. (Rom. 5:2-5)
As we’ve explored in this study, it’s God’s intention to increase us in manifold ways throughout the course of our lives, including fruit, peace, wisdom, favor, faith and others. While not part of this writing, character and spiritual maturity would also be on that list. Romans 8:29 says we’re predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, the ultimate measure of character and maturity.
Greater Than Character: Hope
But Jesus wasn’t just spiritually mature… he was exceedingly hopeful. He left the future of the church in the shaky hands of unreliable followers because He had heaven’s perspective on them. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). Thus, God doesn’t stop developing us when we reach the point of strong character. He wants us in hope, as Paul states in Romans 5:4. The tribulations that demand perseverance, the perseverance that develops and refines our character… they’re onto something even greater: hope.
Character produces hope because it’s the spiritually mature who carry heaven’s perspective. They’ve been through trials and stood on God’s promises and found them to be true. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,” the writer of Hebrews says, “for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
Paul prayed God would show the Ephesians deeper truths about Himself so they would fully understand the hope available to them:
“I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance” (Eph. 1:16b-18, NLT).
The deeper our understanding of God, the more increase we’ll experience in our hope.
Hope as Our Barometer
Hope essentially plays the role of spiritual state barometer. If we find our hope waning regarding some situation, we can know that we aren’t fully connected with heaven’s overriding perspective and may be giving ear to the enemy. As Francis Frangipane states in The Three Battlegrounds: “Every area of your life that does not have glistening hope is under the influence of a lie.”
But if hope is increasing, we can know that His perspective has become ours. And as His children, led by His Spirit, we’ll be active partners in seeing His kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Ever beholding the hope he found in Jesus, Paul shared yet another prayer on the topic towards the end of Romans: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15:13 NLT).
May we experience the same blessing of increasing, overflowing, confident hope.