August 2, 2022
“For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed His name when you served the saints – and you will continue to serve them. Now we want each of you...”
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“For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed His name when you served the saints – and you will continue to serve them. Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope, so that you won’t become lazy, but imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.” Hebrews 6:10-12
When my grandfather died, he left my mother some property in rural Arkansas. We were all excited! I recall driving down a maze of dirt roads to view her “estate.” What we found was 30 acres of dense forest, swallowing some rickety old shack. My mom shook her head and said, “Not worth it,” so we drove away. To my knowledge, nothing has ever been done with that land.
Sometimes, dreams and reality collide with damaging consequences. Seldom are we told that we will have to work hard at things we’ve been given by grace. When this reality sets in, people often lose interest.
This was the case with Israel after they entered the Promised Land. God had sworn to deliver them, and He was faithful to His Word. But once Israel crossed over, it was their job to “dispossess the land’s former inhabitants.” This, too, God promised would be completed if Israel boldly went forth, trusting Him as before, to drive out their enemies. He did not need their labor to accomplish His purposes, but He gave them opportunities to be faithful so they could experience His faithfulness to His Word. Hence, the pedestrian Israelite was given limited participation in fulfilling God’s promise. God intended to use their hard work, empowered by his Spirit, to reach goals outlined in His Word. God chose to elevate Israel’s faith through faith-stretching tasks.
Some of the tribes obeyed, driving out the former inhabitants. Others compromised and made their enemies slaves. Still, others cowered, so they never took hold of what God had promised. Once they had been delivered, by grace through faith, discipleship stalled.
The author of Hebrews (scholars cannot agree on its author) was drawing a parallel of the deliverance of Moses-era Israel with salvation through the Messiah, Jesus. While we are saved by grace, apart from works, once we have been delivered (i.e., are saved), we must bear the armor of God and dispossess those former “inhabitants” (attitudes, influences, thoughts & actions) that once controlled our lives.
Our command to fight does not diminish God’s saving grace. The Lord still delivers us, but under the condition that we remain vigilant and diligent. Again, God gives believers limited participation in things He doesn’t need us to do to experience His faithfulness. Why? Because He loves us and has chosen to show Himself faithful through our faithfulness.
Let us strive to be imitators of those “who inherit the promises, through faith and perseverance.” Again, we are not saved by faith & works. Rather, by faith that works.