OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #234 Hoping Well
I watched several spiders last night as they sat in their webs. Every day they do the same thing, that is, they spin and wait, spin and wait. The object of their spinning is to catch insects for food. So, over and over they spin, knowing that if they are patient they will receive their next meal as soon as it flies into the web.
What hope the spider has! He knows that sooner or later his efforts will pay off. A fly will get caught, the web will shake, and it will be lunch time. And so the spider will spin, knowing with certainty that his spinning will not be in vain.
Our actions reflect our hope. In 1896, George Harbo and Frank Samuelson set out in an 18-foot-long open boat without sails or engine on a 55-day voyage to be the first to row across the Atlantic. The sons of immigrants from Norway, they hoped to become famous and have a better life. This hope fueled them to a record which lasted for 114 years.
Hope in this sense is not wishing in the way we often use the word. “I hope it will not rain on the weekend” merely expresses our desire for good weather. The kind of hope we’re talking about is the certain expectation of future events. We know it will happen, we’re just waiting for it to become reality. That’s the spider sitting in the web.
Hope is a key to understanding the different behaviours listed in Titus 3:1-8. Paul sets up a compare and contrast between a Christian and non-Christian way of life, a kind of before and after picture of the way things should be for the believer. “At one time,” he says in verse 3, we “were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”* Without doubt, we were not all as bad as we could be, but we can recognize that our lives before Jesus had elements of these traits. At our worst, we lived for ourselves without much regard for others.
Christians, on the other hand, are to respect authority, be obedient, ready to do good, not slander people with our words, be peaceable, considerate, and humble. (3:1-2)
Hope is the difference between these two pictures of life. If we do not have hope for the future, then we will act it out. We will feel like we need to grab everything we can get for ourselves, regardless of the cost to someone else, because our only hope is to be selfish. If, however, we believe that we have hope for the future, we will act less selfishly because we know that the future holds good things for us anyway. This is verse 7, “...having been justified by grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
The spider spins his web because he expects it will bring food. For the Christian, godly and unselfish behaviour is rooted in the expectation of eternal life with Jesus. We can give ourselves away in this life because Jesus carries us into the next. We can devote ourselves to doing what is good (v. 8) because we know the future with Jesus holds good things for us.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Sept 8, 2010. *Scripture taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at http://www.onfireletter.blogspot.com/