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1 Corinthians 13 Part 15: Love Hopes all Things
1 Corinthians 13:7c, Romans 8:28 Depart from pessimism and frame your love in hope.
“Love…hopes all things,”
1 Corinthians 13:7c NASB1995
The third action phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:7 is that Love hopes all things. We bear and protect things in love and believe the best about others, even when they fail that trust. Now we hope all things in love. Word definitions are always useful: Hope in this context is from the Greek word elpizo and is defined in the Blue Letter Bible as follows:
in a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence
hopefully to trust in
Every popular Bible translation uses the word “hope” in this phrase. Hope is one of the three fundamental states for the believer, along with faith and love (Paul argues in his last verse of 1 Corinthians 13 that love is greater than the other two, which will be examined soon in this series). However, if you had a three-legged stool and one leg was much shorter than the other two or was missing, your stool is unstable or worthless. Hope is usually the neglected leg of that triune structure - many focus on their faith and/or on love but neglect to bring the framework of hope, resulting in a faltering faith or a failure of love.
A question to my readers: Are you a pessimist or an optimist? Pessimism, along with its popular synonyms of cynicism, melancholy, hopelessness, gloom, despair and sadness (and in some dictionaries, realism), is a mental attitude that an adverse or undesirable outcome is typically expected from a situation. Pessimism sells news and invigorates social media discussion groups. Celebrities get married and bets are made on how long that marriage will last. Some of the political pundits I know are so pessimistic about the state of affairs in our country or in the world that they are hoping for a major natural disaster to happen, which the origin of the popular Sweet Meteor of Death meme or “SMOD” as a wished-for alternative. Needless to say, those pessimists would not like living in the conditions after such an event, as much as they wish for it. Death is not something to be hoped for to escape current events. The photo below shows a hat that was for sale before the 2020 election, advocating SMOD as the candidate:
I confess to being a life-long pessimist, sometimes confusing my gloomy and cynical nature with “realism” about human nature and events. I have often thought the worst of other people before they even get a chance to prove me wrong. I’ve also been an inveterate “awfulizer” in my life, panicking about the worst things that could happen in a temporary job assignment, a medical test, a change in government leadership, or even if a hostile foreign power might destroy our electric grid, sending everyone instantly back to the Stone Age. I was a wreck after the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, expecting much more to happen any day. These attributes and the resultant anxieties reflect a distinct lack of hope, which leads to a lack of love.
Well, Jesus, my Good Shepherd who found me and brought me home, changes all of that! The three legs are now balanced, with hope (and optimism) taking its rightful place with love and faith. The Holy Spirit corrects our pessimistic outlook and replaces it with the following form of hopeful love, from Precept Austin commentary:
In the present context of interpersonal relationships, it means that the one who loves looks at the bright side of things and does not despair (and certainly does not convey a sense of despair to the other person). Love is not pessimistic but shows a godly optimism. Supernatural love does not have a negative and critical spirit, but is always positive and hopeful. This love hopes for what is good for another, even when others have ceased to hope.
We have eternity to hope for, so optimism about those we love is essential because that might point them to our Saviour. This type of agape love adopts the Romans 8:28 attitude about things and people:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Romans 8:28 NASB1995
My next devotional examines 1 Corinthians 13:7d Love Endures all Things.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Heavenly Father - Please continue to replace my pessimist nature with love that is framed in Your hope. All things work together for good for those who love God and we are called according to Your purpose. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org