We want hope. We do all that we can to find it. When we lose it, we do all that we can to have hope restored. How can we find hope and keep it?
One of the most famous parables of Jesus is that of the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Most of the stories toward the end of the Gospel of Matthew have the same concept. The Christian faith is one that is visible to others. It is impossible to serve God in secret. In fact, Jesus tells in this parable that if one decides to stay in hiding, and not use their God given blessings or talents, that punishment is coming on Judgment Day (v.30). When He comes again, we need to be found working, serving, and sharing our blessings.
Another famous teaching of Jesus, found in John 15:1-11, He tells His disciples that He is the True Vine, the Father is the vinedresser, and we are the branches. He says that if they want to glorify the Father in heaven, they must bear much fruit (v.8). How can we keep our faith strong? What can we do to ensure that we don’t “undo” everything we’ve tried to accomplish to the glory of God? When my friends see me, do they see Jesus?
In the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul expresses the need for true, genuine faith in Christ. A growing and active faith. It is pretty clear that the Galatians were struggling in their walk with God. The reason? Their hearts were divided. They were forced to defend their faith. But they were weak. They were immature. The Solution? Learn to grow! Determine to bear fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
(Galatians 5:22-23 - ESV)
You may be thinking, "What does bearing fruit have to do with anything?" Let me help you connect the dots. Grace is accepting something that was not merited or inherited. Hope is when you fully accept that grace covers your past, present and future sins. Hope is what anchors your faith. In this way, hope serves a terrific motivator for a person full of faith and saved by grace.
We do not serve the Lord, and make Jesus the Ruler of our lives, just to avoid judgment. That may be a primary motivating factor at the beginning of your walk. However, we stay rooted and grounded by sharing that hope with other people. The fruit of the Spirit is what people see from you. They see Jesus in you. You bear His image. You reflect the light He has put inside you.
If you lost hope, have it restored. If you don't have hope, seek it. If you have hope, share it. The world needs more hope... and God provides everlasting hope!
You are loved.
Dr. Ray Reynolds
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Ray Reynolds is the pulpit minister of the Summerdale Church of Christ in Summerdale, AL and director of TITUS Camp in Florence, AL. He and his wife Misty (Till) have five sons, one grandson, and one Golden Doodle. They work with the Summerdale church family and connect with people around the world through www.rayreynoldsrap.com and www.reclaiminghopeministry.com. He holds a BA and MM from Heritage Christian University and earned a Ph.D. in Pastoral Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary, but has continued his studies through Cambridge, Groningen University, and Harvard Divinity School. He loves coffee, blueberry cake donuts, carpentry, podcasting, blogging, creating online social media content, and marketing for non-profit ministries in the churches of Christ.