Romans 12:9-12. Let love be genuine…Rejoice in hope.
Literally it says, “in the hope, rejoicing.”
Rejoicing – present and ongoing. Joy is the constant state of our heart. Even in sorrow.
In THE hope – not just any old hope. THE hope. The hope of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul gave us a much deeper look at the connection between hope and love back in Romans 5.
Romans 5:1-5. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
All our hope is rooted in our justification. We have peace with God. We have access into grace. No fear of wrath. No fear of rejection. No fear of death. We have real hope – a confident expectation.
Because we are in Christ, and because of God’s grace, we share in the hope of the glory of God. God wins in the end. Everything God does is for God’s glory, a glory that we will experience with him for eternity. We have this guaranteed hope.
But hope is also something we grow in. Our suffering produces endurance, then character, then hope. We have the hope, and hope is being produced in us. Our hope in Christ turns our suffering into our hoping for Christ.
But what does this have to do with love? Paul answers in two ways:
First, we have hope because God’s agape love has been poured into our hearts (5:5). This is subjective, but that doesn’t make it less real. We know our hope is real because we feel God’s love for us inside of us by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. We can rejoice in hope because we know we are loved. We feel it. We experience it in our hearts.
Second, the objective truth of Christ’s death for us:
Romans 5:8. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Yes, our hope is a feeling rooted in the love that God pours into us. But it is also a fact that God loved us and sent his son to die for our sins. And this happened while we were still sinners. While we were God’s enemies we were loved. While we were hostile to God, he sacrificed himself for us. God gave his beloved son for those who did not and could not love him.
From there Paul concludes that if God already did the hardest thing ever, dying for those who did not deserve it, then we can be sure that he will do the much easier part of salvation, bringing those he saved into eternity.
Romans 5:9-10. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
If God loved us when we were enemies, much more he will love us when we are justified, adopted, cleansed, and reconciled. Our hope is in the much more of God’s love.
Star Wars tells great stories of hope. God tells a story of great hope. Hope in the greatest of loves in the universe. Hope in a God who would give his life even for his enemy.
What we’ve seen is that there is no hope without God’s love for us. But there is also no love for others without this hope. A love that is not accompanied by rejoicing in hope is most likely a fake, self-manufactured love. And that is a love that will ultimately fail. Why? Because others will fail us.
Anyone can love when they are loved back. The atheist. The secularist. The naturalist. Even animals will groom each other. But true agape is demonstrated when we love those who fail us. Hurt us. Even reject us. Which is pretty much all of us.
Hope is what makes our love genuine (not hypocritical). Our love must be rooted in THE hope of being in Christ. When we lose this hope, we lose our power to love. It’s hard to love when you think that no good will ultimately come from it. But in Christ and in the gospel we know that everything we do will be used and redeemed by God. All the love we pour out is backed up by THE hope of Christ. Of eternal gain and everlasting reward.
There is no hope without love, and there is no love without hope. “To live is Christ” gives us both. Do you believe this? When you do, your love will be full of joy filled hope.