Walk in Wisdom – Gleanings from Scripture
Rom. 12.12a – Rejoice in hope
I’ve been preaching through the book of Romans now for nearly a year. The fruit to my own soul has been sweet indeed. But nothing so far has impacted me as much personally as this move into Chapter 12. 12.1-15.13 forms the last great section of this letter, and it is immensely practical. In fact, it is meant to be the practical applications which arise out of the rich soil of the previous 11 altogether. Small wonder then Paul shifts his focus to love. As he remarks in 1 Tim. 1.5, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” Love. Love toward God first. Then love which spills over to man. In Eph. 3 we are reminded that “being rooted and grounded in love”, we need strength given by the Spirit to “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Why? That we may be “filled with all the fullness of God.”
Lets pull all of that together. It is one thing to know God loves us. But what must it be to know Him in such a way that we can be said to be “filled with all the fullness of God?” In other words, what must it be to grow in such intimacy with Him, that we are FULL? The answer is only this – to LOVE Him rightly. For the truth is, we are never FULL of love merely by the knowledge that we ARE loved. Now it is no small thing to know we are loved. But most of us can testify to the fact that we can be truly and deeply and amazingly loved by others, and still experience the deepest sense of emptiness. Love to be filling, and love with God in order to be filling, requires reciprocation. It is not enough to know He loves us – true fullness and satisfaction can only be ours in the act of loving Him in return. Not simply having right emotions toward Him, but entering into the very act of loving God – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matt. 22.37) And of course the question is – how?
The first aspect of loving God is to be found in our text. We could phrase it like this – To love God, we must practice the holy skill of learning to “rejoice in hope.” In short, we begin to enter into the amazing joy of dwelling in His love – in the sense of experiencing fullness, when we study to believe His promises. To believe them in such a way, that they impact the way we think and act and inform our inward attitudes and values. To believe them so that they master us. Like the patriarchs of old, as Heb. 11.13 says: “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on earth.”
Intimacy is built upon trust. It is as true with God as it is with men. When we disbelieved Him in the Garden, we lost our intimacy with Him above all. And only in coming back to that place – only in believing Him as we ought, do we begin to enjoy once more the promise and reality of His presence. If we begin our salvation this way, we must not forget it does not grow any other way. The more we take His promises at face value, and begin to live truly like strangers and exiles on this earth in light of approaching Heaven – the more free and full our hearts become. Rejoice in hope beloved, and begin to enjoy God as never before.