The Optimism of Faith
WHY BE OPTIMISTIC? Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (Romans 12:12) Do you see the recurring characteristic in many of the things that Paul had to say? He always had his eyes on
WHY BE OPTIMISTIC?
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; (Romans 12:12)
Do you see the recurring characteristic in many of the things that Paul had to say? He always had his eyes on the prize, so to speak, and he rarely stepped outside of his cheery tone when he spoke to the brethren. It was something that just never seemed to change, no matter what situations he found himself in or how heavy the burdens of life seems to be at the time. He was optimistic, “rejoicing in hope”, wearing the “armour of light” and walking in light, just as Jesus is in the light.
This optimism was not thin, nor was it fleeting, even in the face of what others might consider certain defeat. He seemed to never be disturbed and he certainly wasn’t timid when dealing with issues that came up. In fact, he worked from a posture of what he believed was irrefutable triumph…
We are always confident…
We are more than conquerors through Him that loves us…
Thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…
What You Could Expect from Paul
These were sentiments you could be sure you would hear from Paul. Statements that were not born of sluggish wisdom or shallow observations. It was also no irrational judgment, and he wasn’t living in a fantasy world either. He knew exactly what the fleshly nature was like, and how dark the human mind could actually be. In fact, here are a few of the indictments he made against the bulk of mankind, all which ring true for those who are outside the faith:
- Senseless hearts
- Reprobate minds
- Vile Passions
- Full of envy, murder, strife and deceit
- Hateful to God
- Inventors of evil things
- Without natural affection
These were a few of the faults of sinful man, as far as Paul could see. Yet he was willing to attempt to lead us through all of that, so that we could find our way to a saving knowledge of Jesus. He never failed to emerge from all threats with a clear and steady optimism that never seemed to fail him.
Unraveling the Secrets
But what is the secret behind this type of energetic and courageous optimism? One has to mull over all the records of Paul’s life and his teachings to discover the underlying reasons. Probably the most weighty, above anything else that gave him reason to hope, was the fact that he had a vivid sense of how real Jesus’ redemptive work really was. No matter where you turn in his writings and history, it is that work of redemption by Jesus that gives him a stable foundation for his life. Even in places where there seems to be no rock-solid doctrinal statements, he still manages to speak about convictions common to life from a place of practicality as well as determination.
Throughout the early portions of the book of Romans, we can see that Paul presents the doctrine of redemption with easy and relief. But further, once he is done arguing his position and starts answering the question concerning eating meat, you’ll see the doctrine again, though not as clearly. He simply leans on the unspoken facts behind the doctrine when he says, But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died. (Romans 14:15).
When he is asked to call down the unclean or overzealous, his judgment pales to the shadow of the Cross of Jesus: What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
When he speaks to what an ideal husband and wife relationship should look like, he sets the scene in light of Jesus’ redemptive glory: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25).
The same type of optimism is woven into every one of his introductions and greetings and seems like a wafting air in his benedictions in the way he signs off a letter. It is through the redemption of Christ Jesus that he seeks to sort all relationships. That redemption is never degraded to some kind of argument or abstract term. He never appends his optimism with any approval of his own. It permeates every aspect of his thinking and of the things he taught. It validated all the decisions he had to make in the middle of any crisis or even the simplest issue of the day. Truly, it was simply the one true spirit of the live he lived in Jesus.
Further Secrets from Paul’s Life
There is great redemption, but also great restoration proclaimed throughout Paul’s life and through his teachings. Behind both his spiritual and mental outlook, there are immense positive forces working together for the interest, solely, for the Kingdom of God. He says things like, Christ liveth in me! And If Christ is in you, the spirit is life! This is his entire disposition, and not a passive one at that. In fact, the characteristic of meekness, itself, is not simply a lack of self-assertion. Rather, it is the a mighty manifestation of the power of Almighty God at work. To Paul, love was not simply a product of a relationship, but an actual energetic production of one’s work and effort. Likewise, faith was not perceived as simply an attitude, but more of a creative energy of the mightiest kind.
A quick synopsis of what Paul’s teachings reflect would be as follows:
- Prayer works!
- Love works!
- The Holy Spirit works!
- Hope works!
- Grace works!
None of these, according to Paul are passive gestures simply waiting to merely be attained. Each of these has an actual work to do and a work to accomplish. Other characteristics, according to Paul, are also at work, but are far less appealing to today’s modern Christian. For instance, he speaks to the fact that, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10). Then again, he says, …but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; (Romans 5:3). And still again, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Winning Battles Before They Start
You will also note, if you closely study Paul’s life and his teachings, that he goes into spiritual battle with complete confidence, never succumbing to a lack of confidence or assurance in the One that goes with him. He seems to always see the “big win” in the end, long before the battle even begins. No matter how many foes there are, no matter how aggressive their maneuvers, no matter how well-established they are or how dark the circumstances seem, Paul has such a storehouse of resources from the hand of God that he can, no matter what, remain fully persuaded and completely optimistic.
In addition to the other reasons we’ve listed for Paul’s unrelenting outlook in Jesus is his ability to always look to the glory that lies ahead. He spent time thinking about heaven. He knew that it was God’s home, but he also knew that when his own time was over, he would also go to live with God. He enjoyed nothing more than considering the glory that would eventually be revealed in him in glory. He saw death, not as the end of the tunnel, but as a gain that would simply transfer him from his physical condition to a place with Jesus. He saw this as a far better reward than any other he could think of. Indeed, he was Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).
Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
But to Your name be the glory
Because of Your love and your faithfulness!