Tuesday, 30 October 2018
For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10
The author now turns onto the works-highway for the next three verses. But, it is a “works of faith after salvation,” not a “works for salvation” that he will speak of. His thoughts are in line with all of Scripture which speak of salvation as being by grace through faith. As Paul said –
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
With this understanding, he begins with, “For.” This is based on the words of verse 9 which spoke of those things “which accompany salvation.” Their deeds, done in Christ, are deeds which are acceptable to God, and for which they will receive their just reward. As he says, “for God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love.” Some manuscripts leave out the word “labor.” Regardless as to whether it belongs there or not, the labor cannot be that of looking “for salvation,” but rather that which is considered acceptable “in salvation.” As noted in the previous verse, the author’s words clearly speak of those who are saved believers in Christ.
They have produced fruit in their salvation, and God will remember what they have done. One of God’s attributes is that He is just. In His justice, He will not fail to remember what His people have done as deeds of righteousness while in Christ and for the sake of God’s glory. These things are as a “work and a labor of love” worthy of God’s attention because of the love they have, as the author says, “shown toward His name.”
The verb for “have shown” is one which indicates “proof which demonstrates something which is undeniable” (HELPS Word Studies). It is a verb which always occurs in the middle voice in the Greek, and thus it underlines the “high level of personal interest shown by the one making something very evident” (HELPS Word Studies). The work so spoken of here is “toward His name.” In other words, it is undeniable that these are saved believers who have demonstrated faith by displaying works which glorify God. As no works are acceptable before God without the covering of Christ, these are saved believers who are working out their salvation through demonstrations of it.
The author then finishes with, “in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Their labors involved a careful attention to the needs of the other believers. The types of ministering are not named, but they could be helping financially, hiding believers during times of persecution, feeding them as they passed through on journeys, or whatever other way their needs were evident. These believers who are being addressed extended their faith to helping the other saints and to the glory of God.
Life application: There is no thing that we can do to earn God’s favor leading to salvation except to receive Jesus’ work which was accomplished by Him on our behalf. This is because we are, by nature, unholy. Nothing unclean can enter God’s presence. By receiving Christ, we are covered by His blood and are declared righteous in the presence of God. This is in no way intended to mean that we should sit idly by and not accomplish righteous works for His glory. We were bought at a high price – the price of the cross – and therefore should naturally desire to glorify God by helping his people.
What works are acceptable then? Other than a few instances in the New Testament, nothing specific is given, but we can be inventive in our desire to bring glory to God. Ultimately, any deed which will lead sinners to repentance should be considered first. To feed the hungry without introducing the gospel is pointless. The “social gospel” is no gospel at all. When venturing out to do good deeds, the glory of Jesus needs to be included or nothing of lasting value has been accomplished.
Help us, O Lord, to accomplish those deeds which will lead others to know You and to see Your glory. Let our actions never be for our own glory or to exalt a particular ministry. Rather, may our hearts and souls be filled with longing to lead others to the salvation provided by the cross of Jesus. Amen.