Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
After the harsh warning, the author softens his tone, possibly to show his true purpose for writing. He addresses his readers as ″dear friends″ (Hebrews 6:9). He assures them, ″we are convinced of better things in your case″ (v. 9). These better things have to do with true salvation (v. 9). In saying this, the author suggests that he knew that his readers were saved and had an ongoing relationship with Christ. God is not blind and notes all that goes on in our hearts and lives. The author assures his readers that their love for God has not gone unnoticed (v. 10). Note that love for God is proven by Christian love and service, ″as you have helped his people and continue to help them″ (v. 10). God does not forget such work and will justly reward His people; He is ″not unjust″ (v. 10). They had been diligent Christians at one time, who had taken their faith seriously.
But the temptations are very real. One can lose one's passion and discipline (″become lazy″, Hebrews 6:12). One can lose one's perseverance when prayers seem to be unanswered, when persecution gathers momentum, and when the going gets tough. This was a real challenge for the original readers of Hebrews. Many of them were tempted to give up their Christian faith and identity to escape the growing persecution against the church. It would be easier for them to return to their old Jewish faith. But that would be a disaster, as the author continues to point out to them. They must persevere with ″this same diligence″ that they had shown ″to the very end″ (v. 11). This message was for ″each of you″ (v. 11). There are to be no exceptions, because no one can escape the implications. They must stand firm till the end (Hebrews 3:14; Matthew 24:13). Only by doing so would they make their hope sure (Hebrews 6:11). This hope has to do with what was ahead: the return of Christ, the final judgment, and the life everlasting. It has to do with what we do not yet have (Romans 8:25), a future inheritance that has been promised by God (Hebrews 6:12).
We make sure of this hope by continuing in faith, for ″faith is confidence in what we hope for″ (Hebrews 11:1). This requires both ″faith and patience″ (6:12). Faith because it is rooted in one's relationship with and trust in the unseen Christ. Patience because He has His own timetable, and we must wait for Him to act.
How does the author encourage his readers? What lessons can we learn in exhorting others?
Reflect on the diligence with which we are to follow Christ. What evidence is there in your life that this is so? What factors tempt you to give up or compromise? What would be the consequences of giving in?