Don’t lose hope. Not because your child, your boss, your employee, your spouse, or yourself is capable on his own of the change that he or she has have failed at time and time again, but because we believe in the Spirit of God, who can transform any heart, who can resurrect the dead, and who can restore relationships beyond repair.
“I don’t even know why we’re here. Nothing is going to change.” I’ve heard those words many times in counseling sessions. And I’ve felt those words from the empty eyes, the rigid shoulders, and the dropped heads of those I have counseled.
Who is it that you don’t believe can change? Your boss? Your employee? Your friend? Your son or daughter? Your spouse? Yourself?
Who have you given up on?
Be honest. You’ve probably given up on someone somewhere. You know what the theological term is for not having hope for someone? For giving up on them? Damning. That’s right. When you lose hope in someone you’re damning him.
The latter half of Romans 1 speaks of the hopeless situation of those who have turned against God. In chilling language, Paul explains that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”[i] He explains that those in rebellion “are without excuse,”[ii] and then he goes on three times in the next five verses to explain how God damns them: “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts…”[iii] and that “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions,”[iv] and finally “God gave them up to a debased mind…”[v]
On those four words—“God gave them up”–hang the icy chill of damnation.
Only God can damn. We can never give up on anyone. We can never lose hope for anyone. Jesus tells us that we are not only to love our neighbor, but also our enemy. And Paul explains that that this love has the shape of hope.