Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9-12)
I wanted to get back to my study through the book of Hebrews as it has kind of fallen by the wayside and really I can't think of anything better to ponder and blog about than the Bible. This is a pretty good set of verses to get back into the study with.
As people who look forward to eternity and the wonderful promises of God we should be the most joyful of people. That can sometimes be difficult as we look around at a world that seems to be falling apart all around us. I mean we live in a world where a young man can walk into an elementary school of all places and butcher 20 children. Of course we also live in a world where the same people who are rightly outraged by the slaughter of 20 innocent children in an elementary school shrug over the slaughter of millions of innocent children in abortion clinics. In this world it can be hard to be joyful and I think for many of us we have strayed from feeling "sure of better things" because those things "belong to salvation" and are therefore something to see in the future while Sandy Hook Elementary is happening right now.
Discouragement and frustration sap our vitality and our joy. This discouragement is endemic among professional clergy, men who are deeply tied into the life of local churches and who have the entire burden of an often thankless task of keeping things running and for many of these men there seems to be little fruit for lots of labor. Discussions of the proper role and functions of elders in the church aside, it is certainly the case that the more concentrated the task of ministry is, the higher the frustration level becomes. It is absolutely the case that when we share our burdens and our needs, as well as our joy, with one another we all are lifted up. I sometimes bemoan the social media world where it so often seems doom and gloom. Negative blog posts, criticism on Facebook, griping on Twitter tend to get more of a reaction than positive reports and praises. If I write a post that things are going great and I am content not many people will read it and no one will comment. Write a post that says something inflammatory and the comments come out of the word work. I am all too often guilty of fanning the flames of controversy and not rejoicing in the positive.
The writer of Hebrews has the right of it. Our God, who is infinitely just and omniscient, sees our work on behalf of the Kingdom. No act of kindness, no show of mercy, no generosity or tear shed or prayer offered is missed by God. We don't get a pat on the head or a gold star but we must never forget that God knows, not just the careless word or the hurtful action or the sinful act, but also the good fruit that we bear in worship of Him. Discouragement, frustration, apathy, lethargy. These are not of God but of the enemy, lies used to keep us slumbering while the world cries out for Christ even when it doesn't realize it. That is why God has gifted so many of us with more mature brothers and sisters in the faith so that we may imitate "those who faith and patience inherit the promises".
Brothers and sisters, while our ultimate reward is in heaven we must remember that our God sees our work and our love in his name. When we spend yet another day caring for our precious children amidst whining and crying and dirty diapers or we minister to people who don't seem especially interested in being ministered to, God sees. When we share our material possessions and more importantly our lives with each other in love, God sees. When we boldly and humbly proclaim Christ as King and the only way to eternal life to a world that laughs and scorns, God sees. God sees and He never forgets. Be heartened today and know that not one drop of sweat or tear shed is overlooked.