Yesterday I offered some help for learning to hope in Christ. I’ll repeat the first two suggestions and then continue right on into the third.
First, pray for it.
We are told to pray “hallowed by your Name.”
Second, look long and hard and frequently at the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ.
Read yesterday’s blog before you go any further. That was the foundation for what I will say now.
Why look at the cross?
Let me share with you some benefits of considering Christ’s death and resurrection. Why look at the cross?…
For encouragement that you can hope in Christ. He died for your hopelessness so that you would hope in God. Your fight for hope is in His strength.
To help you see the sinfulness of your sin. When you put your hope in things instead of or in addition to Christ, it is a horrible sin! It is a great offense against God! It is good for you and I to consider the pain and agony Christ went through because of our hopelessness and unbelief. We aren’t talking about sins that can be overlooked or swept under a rug. They are sins that deserve God’s holy wrath!
Sometimes we take our sin lightly because we don’t consider how much God hates our sin. We remember this holy hatred when we see how the Father crushed Jesus for our sin.
For comfort when you fail to hope in Christ. While it’s good to see the shamefulness and sinfulness of our hopelessness, it is also important that we see that our sin was fully paid for by Christ. When you see your failure to hope in Christ as you should, you must remember that you can’t “make it up to Him.” You can’t earn favor with Him. You must rest in the gospel. You must embrace your Savior. You must rejoice that you have full redemption from sin. You are forgiven.
For developing a taste for real beauty. We hope in things we think are valuable and beautiful. We trust “precious things” to rescue us from boredom, weakness, poverty, guilt, etc. Sadly, we often look to “perishable things like silver or gold” (1 Pt. 1:18) (sometimes we call them “precious metals”) to be our savior. We don’t have a proper taste for real beauty. How do we do we develop this taste?
We must savor Jesus Christ. What is it that makes Him truly lovely? Oh, how we could list the ways. Indeed, we must list the ways! Daily!
Third, identify false hopes – things that you have “set apart” in your heart.
I’ll try to help you identify some false hopes by giving you some questions to help you sort through the desires and beliefs of your heart. You’ll notice that they come from our passage in 1 Peter…3:13-17.
- What are you zealous to do?
- What do you count as the biggest blessings?
- What do you fear losing? What do you worry about?
- About what things to people ask you to give an account?
Perhaps people have asked you questions like this: “Man, why do you care so much about decorating?” Or, “Why do you talk so much about your house?”
- What do you earnestly defend and explain?
Sometimes we are more able to defend the purchase of a 60 inch plasma TV than we are able to defend Christ. We are able to explain why other forms of entertainment are inferior. We are able to explain the values of our plasma.
- What are you willing to compromise?
When you hope in God you are absolutely loyal to Him. That’s keeping a good conscience. It’s living a life of integrity. When you put your hope in something else, you become loyal to it. What are you loyal to? When you put your hope in something other than God, you are willing to go against your conscience to have it. You work hard to rationalize how you spend your money, your time, etc.
Here are some possible false hopes:
- a car
- your own abilities
- a particular person
- golf, hockey, basketball, basket weaving
- extended family
- immediate family
- having a baby
- not having a baby
The list could go on an on. With the bulleted items in mind, consider the questions above.
Fourth, after identifying your false hopes, consider them in light of Christ and Scripture.
The goal here is to see just how “false” your false hope are. What does Scripture say about the things or people you are hoping in? What warnings and exhortations are there? Consider how your false hopes are “perishable,” “defiled,” and “fading.” Consider how your false hopes have let you down, stolen your zeal, encouraged you to compromise your integrity, motivated you to stubbornly defend yourself.
I want to say more about this, but alas, I must go now. Lord-willing, I’ll write more later.