“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints (Heb 6:10),” is one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible. It serves in the context of those who fall away from the faith (Heb 6).
One struggle for many Christians is the lack of feedback on their minimal influences for the kingdom of God. Hebrews 6:10 is the Word of feedback from the only One whose feedback even matters. Barnabas was an encourager with his actions, but also with his words. He gained the nickname, “son of encouragement.” It would be good for every Christian to learn to encourage their fellow believers. Hebrews 6:10 is a great place to begin your ministry of encouragement.
First, it is the Word of God, as noted. This means it has life giving power in it. There is nothing like the Word of God to lift someone up who is struggling. God’s Word is true, and it is light, too. Typically, someone is struggling because of some lie Satan has foisted upon a person’s conscience. The truth will set the Christian mind free. The lie is always cloaked with darkness, but the Word shines light from God’s perspective. Your work matters.
Second, we learn that the Lord remembers our good works. God is omniscient. He knows everything. How encouraging is it for a Christian to have some good work in the past brought to her attention, by some beneficiary of that good work? It proves that our labor in the Lord is not in vain. It is a refill of fuel from the eternal pump. God remembers our sins no more, but He remembers our works.
The writer tells us it would be unjust for God to forget them. Why? It is the Holy Spirit who is at work in us to will and to do God’s good pleasure (Phil 2:13). In other words, our good works are really God’s good works in and through His people. How could God forget His own good works?
God has chosen His people to be vessels of goodness and grace in the world. Our good works demonstrate our faith in the One who is at work in us. He created us in Christ Jesus for good works. These were prepared beforehand that we might do them (Eph 2:10). What a blessing it is for one to have his life work from the Lord. We are wanderers like Cain, otherwise. Bitterness of spirit is rooted in the cognizance of the vanity and futility of life without Christ. Along with Cain, what sentiment do the names Ishmael, Esau, Saul, and Judas produce?
Christian good works do not justify us, but they do affirm us. They cannot be separated from love, however (1 Cor 13). The motive for all we do is love from a pure heart. If you are doing anything with an alternative motive, it is suspect. Love never fails but works done without love have no basis for standing in the category of good.
Third, the writer of Hebrews added, “and the love which you have shown toward His name.” We love, only because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:19). Grace abounds from God toward His children. He is a good Father. We love Him not just for every good gift He gives (Jas 1:17), but also for the discipline He puts us through for our good (Heb 12:4–11).
He demonstrated His love toward us in Christ (Rom 5:8). We demonstrate our love toward Him through the obedience of faith. By doing what He tells us to do, we become peculiar people in the world. When they ask about the hope within us, we bear witness of Christ. This is what it means to show love toward His name.
Of course, His name is above every other name, but men hate His name because of His perfections. Jesus is good, and men are evil. People hate the Light that has come into the world because they love darkness (Jn 3:19), and their dirty deeds are exposed by the Light. Still, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus, whether that is their delight or chagrin.
When someone takes our Lord’s name in vain, it is agitating to our souls. We want His name to be made great to the nations. In the past, the pop singer, Adele, referred to another female pop singer as, “Jesus Christ to me.” This, of course, is blasphemy. Christians cringe at such misuse of the name of the One who has done so much good. Men boast in their own names because of their accomplishments, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God, for there is none beside Him.
When you are zealous for the name of the Lord, showing your love for the One to whom you are betrothed, it is something God does not forget. He acknowledges the glory given to Christ with each opportunity we have to bear witness of Christ in truth. We also demonstrate our love for others by displaying His banner over us, which is love.
Fourth, God does not forget our ministry done already for the saints. Christ is building His church (Mt 16:18). When we encourage others in love, we are edifying the body of Christ. God has given each Christian spiritual gifts to employ for this building up project (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12; Eph 4). When we use our gifts, we are able to say, “God has gifted me to do the good works He has prepared for me, which I have done in love for His name.”
God has begun this good work in us, and He will perfect it (Phil 1:6). For from Him are the good works, through Him are we strengthened to do them, and to Him are they done (Rom 11:36). We serve Him in what He gives us to do. This is what it means to “wait on the Lord.” Many equate this idea with time, but the meaning is more closely attached to idea of “waiting” tables. We serve the Lord.
Fifth, we cannot rest on previous good works, for we must still be ministering to the saints. A thousand times I have quit the ministry of the Gospel in my head. “Insignificant” is the best way to describe my ministry. “Unimpactful” is the echo from the pit.
When these assessments are true, it is because I have lost focus on the One I serve. The writer of Hebrews elsewhere encouraged, “keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Heb 12:2).” I have never quit the ministry in reality (you are proof if you are reading this!), but when the assessment is wrong, it is from the devil. “David, you are insignificant and unimpactful. Just quit,” is the broken record playing in my head. When I am honest, I say to myself, “David, you are insignificant and unimpactful, which is why you must press on toward the mark of your high calling in Christ Jesus.”
Only Jesus Christ gives meaning and significance to anything. Food is for the stomach, but it a glory unto God when someone gives Him thanks for it. As I committed myself to quit the ministry again last night, a dear child of God from California wrote me with a timely request to help her with forgiveness issues, “Hi pastor, I had a question I was hoping you could help answer. I have been pondering the idea of forgiveness and have been really struggling…” When I began reading her words, I realized she had just saved my ministry. Somebody was in need, and I was the one to be consulted.
Instinctively, I ministered to her. It is what pastors do. You are not a pastor unless someone calls you, “pastor.” A pastor has no flock unless someone calls him “pastor.” She called me, “PASTOR.” She may never read these words, but she gave me life with two words, “Hi pastor…”
I wrote to her about the relationship between providence and forgiveness. As I thought about providence, I could not help but see the providence in the timing of her communicated need. God, in His providence, took someone’s need and placed it before someone else’s need, which happened to be a need to minister in the capacity for which he was called.
I am still ministering to the saints! Hurray! Hallelujah! Praise be to the God of all grace, who has turned the curse of work into something meaningful and significant. God’s Word tells me, He will never forget the few words written from my heart, from my experience, and from my knowledge of God’s Word to one of His lambs, to help her grow strong in forgiveness.
My ministry to you dear reader is for you to consider your meager works. The devil calls them meager to hurt you, but you can call them meager to humble yourself. The point is God will never unjustly value any of them. Not one of them is forgotten. I write to you, today, for the love of His name, and for the glory of His name.
Press on in the faith, my brother or sister. Press on with each little work ordained for you, today. He knows your works. He will not forget them. Love your brother or sister, today, by simply meeting one need. Click “Like” or “Share” on something good and God-honoring someone has nervously shared to bring honor to the name Jesus Christ. God will not forget that, either. You may just give them life for one more day in the ministry.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 25, 2021