1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember when the self-affirmation market exploded and the motivational posters with thick black borders and big white letters were super popular? Now it’s hard to see those and not think it’s satire or a joke. They were originally intended for encouragement and motivation. For some people, they worked for a while, but overuse made them ordinary.
The Old Testament can become like that too. We can hear the exploits of great men and women from ancient times and turn it into a didactic old-school Sunday school lesson with a moral. The last line of the account of David and Bathsheba or Gideon’s battle wasn’t intended to be “And that’s why you should…”
Just like we tell our kids stories of the great things that God has done to encourage and reassure them, the Old Testament events were written to encourage us to have hope. We can have hope that God provides because He provided for Abraham. We can have hope that God delivers because He rescued the Hebrews from Egypt. We can have hope that God keeps His word because He backed up all of the prophets with fulfillment and action.
Whenever you read something in the Old Testament, ask the Lord “How does this teach me to hope? What do I put my hope in after reading this? ”
The Lord is so loving and so full of compassion. He wants to continually build us up in faith in Him until we run into Him face to face. That is the purpose and end to our hope.