Without faith in the one true God our hopes are false, fleeting and will let us down sooner of later (maybe on our death bed). True faith (in God) comes from reading and reviewing God acting in history (Rom. 10:17- the Bible) and in our own history (our salvation and on-going story of faith) and in the lives of others (Heb. 10:23-25). As we read of the love, power and goodness of God in the lives of man and remember/recall how kind and loving He has been and is to us we love Him more and more. Yet, false hopes (money, pleasure, status, accomplishments, etc.) lure us away from regularly reviewing God's ways with man and our faith (trust) in God weakens and thus we, by default, put our hope in the things of this world – even good things – family, friends, work, etc., but not the BEST thing – living for the glory and honor of God as our Lord Jesus modeled as a man. MAN WILL SEEK HAPPINESS (HOPE) EVEN IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES!
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) There is a reciprocal relationship between faith, hope and love as seen in Hebrews 6:9-20 and in the example of Abraham. (Also see 1 Cor. 13). Faith is looking back (past) at what God has done for us as revealed through His Word; hope looks forward to (future) what God will do for us as we walk in obedience to Him; and now (present) our love is a response to His love as we serve Him by serving His people. God saves us by grace through faith as we admit that we are a “charity case” (I’m spiritually bankrupt Lord and need a Savior/Deliverer) but then He calls us to live by faith, i.e., to work out our salvation by grace through faith (trusting in God’s power to do what He calls us to do) motivated by hope in His promise of blessings and rewards (an heir and land in Abraham’s case) and spiritual blessings (love, joy, peace, etc.) in this life for NT believers and eternal rewards in the next for all believers (see Hebrews 11). As we live by faith in the hope of God’s blessings we grow in our revelation of Him (John 14: 21-23) and thus grow in our love for Him. Our love for Him motivates us to love and serve others (for Him), and as we do our faith and hope grow even more. Note how faith, hope and love work together: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work (the hope of reward) and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure… to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Heb. 6:10-12)
Here is a good summary statement by John Piper: “Step 1: Be earnest to maintain a strong faith, seek to realize the full assurance of hope. Step 2: The strength to keep you going in obedience to do the will of God is faith, namely, the assurance of hope, that by God's grace you will make it through the routine and that the reward will be infinitely worth it all. Step 3: So don't give up in your routine of righteous living. Step 4: I want you to inherit the promises – get the gold medal.” "Do not, therefore, fling away your fearless confidence, for it carries a great and glorious compensation of reward. For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away [and enjoy to the full] what is promised." (Heb. 10:35-36)
In his book Conformed to His Image Ken Boa lists seven worldly “de-motivators” of faith and seven motivators for faithful obedience. The seven worldly de-motivators are:
1. Fear of loss
2. Guilt (false guilt – “shoulds and oughts” from other people)
4. The hope of personal (selfish) gain
5. Reputation – the approval of man
The seven motivators are:
1. No other options. When we come to Christ, we are effectively admitting the inadequacy of every other approach to life. While this is a negative motivator, it can have real power in times of doubt and pain.
2. Fear. This can be both negative (fear of consequences) and positive (fear of God – e.g., Psalm 130:4)).
3. Love and gratitude. This is a frequently cited motive that is positive in nature.
4. Rewards. Scripture talks much more about rewards as incentives for faithfulness and obedience than we might have supposed.
5. Our identity in Christ. This should have profound implications for our behavior.
6. Purpose and hope. It is important for us to cultivate a biblical purpose for living and a hope that is founded on the character of God.
7. Longing for God. The vision of God has been a recurring theme in devotional literature, though it is not as common in the Christian literature of our own century.
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb.10:23-25)
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AND APPLICATION
1. Which of the seven worldly motivators (fear of loss, guilt, pride, hope of personal gain, reputation, prestige, and pleasure) have been most operative in your life and why?
2. Which of the seven Biblical motivators (no other options, fear/awe, love and gratitude, rewards, your identity in Christ, purpose and hope, longing for God) have been most operative in your life and why?