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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Love Hopes All Things

By Clifton Angel

    Someone we know has been in jail multiple times, and we say, “They’ll never straighten up.” Someone we know has a poor work ethic, and we say, “They’ll never learn the importance of work.” Someone we know keeps going back to the bottle, and we say, “They’ll never stop drinking.” Someone we know has been through an unscriptural divorce, remarried, and claims it is God’s will, and we say, “They’ll never repent.” If ever we have said things like this in situations like this, we have exhibited the exact opposite of love.
    You see, love “hopeth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Biblical hope requires desire and expectation. Godly love requires that we hope even when evidence points to hopelessness. It does not mean that we are gullible; it does not mean that we are ignorant; it does not mean that we are unwise. It means we love God, we love like God, and we therefore hope for the best in every situation and concerning every person.
    If you study the etymology (“facts of the origin and development of a word;” www.etymonline.com) of the word “hope,” some have suggested it is connected with the word “hop.” Their conclusion is that hoping involves actions, not just acknowledgements. Because we have desire and expectation, we hop to the opportunity at hand. If we have the love of God, which “hopeth all things,” we don’t just say, “I hope that criminal cousin of mine will straighten up;” rather, we go to him and sincerely seek to help him and show him what he means to God. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say, “I hope that lazy friend of mine gets a job;” rather, we learn to approach them with kindness and help them to see the error of their ways. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say, “I hope my alcoholic co-worker will stop drinking;” rather, we go to them when they are sober, show them our concern, and help them to see the futility of their actions. If we have this kind of love, we don’t just say “I hope my sister will learn the truth about marriage, divorce, and remarriage and repent;” rather, we kindly seek to teach her about God’s authority revealed in His Word and the powerful teachings of Jesus, like those found in Matthew 19. Love hopes all things.
    The story is told of a special needs teacher sent to teach children confined to hospital beds. To one little boy, she was sent to teach nouns and adverbs; however, she was not told that he was severely burned from head to toe. She left that session feeling as though she accomplished nothing. The next day, a nurse approached the teacher in extreme curiosity as to what she had done to the boy. The nurse said, “He was going downhill fast, but after your session with him, he has begun to improve and respond to treatments like never before.” Two weeks later, the boy had improved enough to communicate, and he explained that he had lost all hope until the teacher came to him. He explained it this way, “You don’t teach nouns and adverbs to a dying boy, do you?”
    Love hopes all things. How is your love measuring up? Let’s grow in love.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website: http://www.coldwatercofc.com/



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