God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (Hebrews 6:10)
Paul’s letter to the Hebrews is actually a series of small sermons within a sermon. To use the words of the writer himself, it is an exhortation. Paul seems to be trying to keep alive a fire that is flickering out. He used many literary devices and methods of communication to do this, including many metaphors relating to athletics, agriculture, education, architecture, seafaring, courts of law and more. This letter was probably written in the third century, but this timeline is still being debated by biblical students, so we cannot be certain.
The sixth chapter, from which today’s verse comes, is a stern warning, but with hope. The pattern occurs again as a stern warning followed by words of encouragement and hope. Paul wants to reader to hear the words about the impossibility of restoring certain persons to a second repentance as part of the larger message of pastoral encouragement.
Directly preceding this verse, Paul uses the term ‘beloved’ in referring to the readers of this letter. The preacher speaks softly here, offering the strongest signal that salvation and not damnation lies before the congregation. He also says that he is confident of better things which is not to be taken as an apology for the harsh warning he has delivered. The warning was appropriate; there were clear signs that some were slipping away and becoming neglectful and inattentive. Paul is trying to do more than simply put a happy face on the situation.
Today’s verse speaks of better things. Two factors have persuaded the preacher of better things from the congregation. One is the justice or faithfulness of God. The other factor is that God’s investment in them has borne fruit in their love and service in God’s name toward their fellow believers.
We, too, have been given the possibility of bearing the same fruit that Paul spoke of to the Hebrews so long ago. We are each able to love God and let him see how our works have helped the people. Our churches do this through missions of many kinds: ministering to the homeless, the addicted, the alcoholics, the children, the sick, the dying, the hungry, and even those far away in other parts of the world. We can each do it within our own families, our own circle of friends, and our own churches and communities. We can set a goal each day by asking ourselves: What can I do to help someone today? The answer may be very easy or very difficult, but God will always give us the guidance to find it, the strength to complete it, and the joy of accomplishing it to the glory of his name.
References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.
Columbia Prayer Chain: Friday, January 4
In our prayers: Betty Jo Carson, Gary Davis, Eddie Bolton, Myrna, Esther, Pam James, Becca, Doug and Sharon, Shandra Dickenson, John Kelchner, Jeannie, Elizabeth Matthews, Nedrick Griffin, Jennifer Handy, Nancy Stuckey, Annemarie Sullivan, Rachel and Randy Wurtzbaugh, Patty Peckham, Denise Byrd, Caralynn, Greg and Lisa Steele, Dean Timothy Jones, Linda Langford, Marty Fritz, Harriet Hancock, Tommy and Robby Palmer, Patty and Ted Mac Laughlin, Janet Long, Bobby Wilson, Debbie and Pat Barry, Betty Jo Sullivan, Mary Francis Harris, Patrick and Patricia Barry, Jordan Hill, Doris Clevenger, Charles Sigel, Joe Reno, Bob Davis, John Whatley, Nancy Zuckerman, Charles Davis Sr., Elaine and Sharon, Bill Carter, Betty Peavy Frick, Joye Cantrell, Fred and Gail, Dale and Norma Sessions, Padge Arrington, Jerry Callahan, Norman Masters
In memoriam: Nathaniel Bell, Versa Lee Cobb Brown, Jacob Curtis Crout, Dr. William “Bill” Edgar Carson Jr. Sallie L. Wooten, Marilyn Ann Williams Hudson, Dorothy Elizabeth Shealy Horlacher, George “Buddy” Ashford Lindsay, Daisy Mae Jackson Birchmore Martin, Bland Elliott Isler, John Hardin Marion Lucas, James Edgar “Bub” Norton, Rose Lee Slaick, Frank Warren
Our prayers are with: the elderly, the homeless, all currently fighting illness, all beloved pets, our president and congress, our police officers and firefighters, all who serve in the armed forces
Columbia Prayer Chain is open to all residents of greater Columbia who would like to share prayers and receive the prayers of others. Please leave your name in the comment box below or email me to join our Prayer Chain. It is updated daily.