“Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;”
Several years ago, I knew a pastor whose church had several acres of land. The pastor told me that the state in which he resided had planned a highway bypass that would go through a small portion of his property which would result in the state giving the church a large sum of money for that land. The hope of this pastor was that this money would help set him up to develop the remainder of the church property. That hope never became a reality; instead, that pastor became a prisoner of hope, and his hope kept him from doing the things that were best for the church.
In the verse above, the prophet pleaded with the Jews who remained in Babylon to return to the Israel to help rebuild the walls and the cities of the nation. The hope of these Jews was that Christ would soon come and set up His eternal kingdom, and that hope kept them from breaking up their associations to return to do their duty of rebuilding their country. Their hope became a delusion, and that is why the prophet called them “prisoners of hope.”
Sadly, there are many people who let hope keep them from doing in the present what they are supposed to do. Many people let the hope that one day they will be rich, or the hope that one day everything will fall into place, or the hope that one day they will get things turned around in their life, to keep them doing what is right today. Let me make this clear; there is nothing wrong with having hope. Certainly, hope is what keeps people going in tough times, but hope should never be the prison bar that prevents you from doing right today. Hope becomes a sin when it causes you to sit and do nothing instead of getting busy and serving the LORD. You must never become a prisoner of hope. You must never let hope incarcerate you and cause you to do nothing when you are supposed to be serving the LORD. If you would keep your hope while serving the LORD, hope then becomes a driving force instead of a prison bar that keeps you from doing right.
Let me ask you, are you allowing the hope of a dream to keep you from doing right in the present? There are people who have the hope of starting their own business, but their hope is keeping them from getting a job in the present. There are men who have the hope of pastoring a church someday, but they are doing nothing in the church where they attend at the present. There are some who have the hope and dream of doing something great for God in the future, but their hope has not motivated them to get busy for the LORD in the present. There are many who have the hope that they will get things turned around in their life, but that hope keeps them from doing right in the present. My friend, when your hope keeps you from doing right in the present, hope has done nothing but to turn you into its prisoner.
The answer to keeping hope from incarcerating you is to do what you are supposed to do in the present and continue to work towards what you are hoping to do in the future. You are sure to get much closer to what you hope for if you will get busy doing what you are supposed to do now. There is nothing that makes a hope come closer to reality like doing your duties in the present. Hope should never be an excuse to neglect your present duties; instead, it should magnify the importance of those duties. Hope is only an illusion if you don’t stay busy in your present duties.