We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.
The book of Hebrews is a curious book – the author is not identified, even though historically many scholars have suggested Paul the apostle as the leading candidate to the authorship of this book. Hebrews is personally most notable to me for its ‘Hall of Faith’ chapter 11, although faith is probably not a very significant theme in the book. A brief search revealed that the word ‘better’ appeared 11 times in the book, with the superiority of Christ highlighted – leading us to better hope, better convenant, better promises, better sacrifice, better things, better possessions. And in our pursuit of the betterment of our faith, diligence is absolutely necessary on our part.
Chapter 6 begins harshly and cuts no rosy picture of this faith – But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned [Heb 6:8]. Even so, the author(s) emphasizes that with perseverance and diligence, our hope of salvation can be made sure.
show this same diligence – Diligence is hard work, a concerted effort to do something, to work on something, to improve on something. Same diligence? Referring to the previous verse, where they were noted to have labored in their work and love, having helped God’s people and continue to help them [Heb 6:10]. They have shown great diligence with an active faith and a laboring love, and the author desires them to continue to persevere with it. Diligence is perhaps key to betterment. While salvation boils down to grace, the better hope, better life, better convenant, better things – all these require diligence on our part to follow the Lord’s commands.
to the very end – I remember a pastor trying to describe faithfulness to God using the analogy of his marriage. He said, in his 25 years of marriage, so far so good – he can look back and consider himself to have been faithful to his wife. However, all it takes is just one moment of unguardedness, one moment of temptation, one moment of weakness for him to be unfaithful. And when that one moment comes, it doesn’t quite matter if he was faithful for one year or for 25 years prior to that. He will simply become an unfaithful man – he didn’t talk about forgiveness that day, and forgiveness will of course open up another dimension to this analogy, but it left a great impact on me. Faithfulness is a lifelong thing. It’s hard to always be fiery and passionate. But even if our faith sometimes waver, let us never lose our faith. Let us work today in preparation for the day when our faith will be tested, so that we can keep this good faith till the very end of the race.
make your hope sure – Christian hope differs greatly from worldly hope. The difference lies in the word – sure. In other words, to make your hope sure is to make your hope into a Christian hope. Normal, worldly hope as is defined in our daily lives is the wish for something to happen. If that something happens, you’ll be pleased or relieved, if it doesn’t happen, you’ll be disappointed. But the Christian hope is placing our confidence in something that we know is bound to happen – it’s a sure hope. We do not hope for salvation in the worldly sense – if we are saved, that’s good. If we’re not saved, that’s just too bad. No, in Christ our hope for salvation is made certain. And our diligence will make this certainty heartfelt to us personally. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? [Rom 8:24]
Diligence. Perseverance. A persistent diligence will lead to sure hope. In the next verse, the author continues, we do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised [Heb 6:12]. Laziness is probably the other end of the spectrum of diligence. If we are diligent, we don’t have to come up with excuses for our failures, but it would be clear that we can only turn to God. Let us work hard for the better nation, the better kingdom, the better hope, the better convenant, the better things and the better promises. Let us improve on ourselves diligently so that we can better follow the Lord. And let us persevere in our diligence, and not slack off when the going gets tough. It’s a lifelong race. The author demands diligence to the very end. It’s difficult, surely, but let’s never give up working on it.