But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
(New American Standard Version, 1995)
Contrary to Calvinist doctrine, which seems to comprise much of modern day denominational teaching, God does have some expectations of those who will inherit the promises that He has made to us. Among those expectations are things like faith, patience, and diligence. Faith is our “direct connect” to grace, “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). But the Bible also teaches that real faith, living faith is active and that it manifests itself in our works. The Bible says, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?” (James 2:18-20).
So, a living and active faith will always give evidence of itself by our deeds, our actions, our behavior, our treatment of others, our works. It is not that we trust in these things to save us because we all know, or should know, that no matter how much love and service we manage to accomplish in our lives, still, we have sinned, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and no amount of good works will ever be enough to redeem us from the penalty that we owe because of our sins; that penalty being death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). You and I deserve to die—to be eternally separated from God. But, thankfully, He does not give us what we deserve, for the verse goes on to say, “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). And to whom does God give that precious gift? Not to people who simply believe—even the demons believe, as we read in the passage above—but to people of faith. People who not only have believed in Him, but who have put all their hope and all their trust in the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and whose hearts, lives, and character, therefore, are being cultivated and controlled by their faith in Him and love for Him. This is why, while we are saved by grace through faith, still, the Bible says that “God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger” (Romans 2:6-8).
So, God has some expectations of me. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s admonition when he said, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). The Lord knows, and I know, that if my faith is real, if it is living and active, then it will give evidence of itself in the decisions that I make and in the way that I live my life. And I love the way that the writer of the book of Hebrews words it in the passage that we are contemplating. After warning the children of God to whom he is writing about the power of sin to harden people’s hearts, thereby causing them to fall away, he says, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you” (Hebrews 6:9).
God has some expectations of me and, because of the faith and love that He knows thrives deep down in my heart, He knows that I am capable of better things than what typically characterizes people who are all caught up in this old world. In fact, the Hebrew writer goes so far as to say, “we are convinced of better things concerning you”… wow! I hope that thought lifts your spirit and encourages you as it does me. Seeing the confidence that God has in His children, as expressed in this passage of scripture, it makes me want to rise above my petty gripes and complaints, and the selfishness that so often threatens to take over my heart and reach for those “better things.”
And one of the most uplifting thoughts of all is the fact that “God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (verse 10).
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ve done all these good things, I’m trying to love and serve others, but no one sees, no one cares, and I don’t seem to be making much, if any, difference, anyway… so what does it matter?” I think we’re all tempted to think that way from time to time; especially when we feel like people are being mean to us or aren’t treating us so well. But, while we don’t want to do the things we do just to be seen of men, still, isn’t it encouraging to know that God does see, God does remember, and all those little things we do are important to Him. He won’t forget our work, our ministry, our little labors of love. Even if no one else ever sees or appreciates our efforts, He does. And that, in itself, is so rewarding.
My Father, My Creator, My God, I humbly approach You in the precious name of Your Son, the lover of my soul, Jesus Christ, My Lord, My Savior and, by His authority, with His permission, and through His mediation, I offer my thanks and my praise to You for being the kind, compassionate, and loving Father that You are. Thank You, O God, just for seeing me. Thank You for caring so deeply about me. I thank You for not thinking of me merely as a number, but for calling me one of Your own children. And thank You, Father, that my life means something to You; that my day to day activities are important to You; that what I’m thinking and feeling matters to You; that the decisions I make, the way I speak and act, and the way that I respond to and treat other people is of great concern to You. And thank You, O God, for Your high expectations of me as I seek to live a life that brings You glory. And thank You, Lord, for not forgetting the work and the love which I have shown toward Your name. By the power of Your Spirit working within me, please help me to walk in manner worthy of the calling with which I have been called.
Copyright © 2023 Philip R. Stroud
All rights reserved