How Hope Subverts Sluggishness1
In the final article in this brief series, I want you to see the relationship of the full assurance of hope to being energetic and passionate so that through faith and patience we might inherit the promises. Continue reading . . .
In the final article in this brief series, I want you to see the relationship of the full assurance of hope to being energetic and passionate so that through faith and patience we might inherit the promises. Look again closely at Hebrews 6:11-12.
“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” (Heb. 6.9-12).
Here is how I perceive the cause and effect progression in this passage:
Being fully assured that God is for you and that you belong to him is what will energize your heart so that you won’t be sluggish and spiritually lazy and just coast through the Christian life. The joy that comes from the rock-solid assurance that God has destined you for an eternity with him will guard you from becoming presumptuous and arrogant and slothful. Being fully assured that God is your God and that his promises can be trusted is what will sustain faith and patience in your heart as you wait for the promises of God to come to pass.
Again, don’t miss the connection between being fully assured of the solidity and certainty of your hope, on the one hand, and your determination not to be sluggish or slothful but to energetically imitate the faith and patience of believers who’ve gone before you, on the other. The former is the cause and the latter the effect.
Don’t ever think that the Christian life does not require effort. It is always God-empowered effort. God is beneath and behind all we strive to do, but strive we must. We must be “earnest” in the cultivation of confidence in our hope “so that” we won’t be lazy and negligent when it comes to living lives of “faith and patience.”
We talk so much about the importance of “faith” in the Christian life that I fear we’ve tuned it out when it comes up in biblical texts like this. We dial down the volume of God’s Word when the subject of “faith” comes up because we’ve heard it so many times before. It seems so basic and foundational and natural to the Christian that we simply don’t give it much time or thought. And that would be a tragic mistake!
The greatest battle that you face every day, the most dangerous threat that comes your way from Satan, the most alluring temptation of your flesh, is to stop believing God, stop trusting God, stop hoping in God. Or worse still, just start taking God for granted and coast into your inheritance of the promises. No! We will inherit all that God has promised, not independently of faith, but precisely through it and by means of it.
And that, dear friend, is one of the primary things that Jesus does for us as our great high priest. He stands ever present and always powerful to sustain within us a heart that treasures God and trusts God and grows in the assurance that our hope in God will never fail.
John Paul Sartre, the famous French existentialist and atheist, once said:
“Man can count on no one but himself. He is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without hope, with no other aim than the one he sets for himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.”
My prayer is that you would reject such cynical and destructive counsel, and embrace the perspective of the psalmist who declared:
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those whose who hope in his steadfast love” (Ps. 33:18).
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth” (Ps. 71:5).
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 146:5).
So let me close by reminding us all one more time how crucial it is to preach this truth to our own hearts. Don’t merely rely upon your pastor to preach it to you on Sunday morning. Preach it to yourself:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God” (Ps. 42:5).