"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.
And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence
so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
so that you not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith
and patience inherit the promises."
Don't be sluggish.
Did you ever think that was in the Bible?
It begs the question,
am I sluggish?
I take comfort in knowing that God has not forgotten all we have done in ministry. It makes me tired just to think about all we did. I don't know how we did it. Folks may not realize it, but pastoral ministry is like swimming upstream. It is exhausting with everyone on the sidelines able to critic how you are doing, telling you how to swim a little harder or how we are doing it wrong, or how so and so did it better. Yep. It can only be done for the love of God. Our church motto now is simple enough so that even I can remember it: love God and love people. At least I got the first part down pat, but sometimes the other part is a little harder.
In some ways, I don't have what it takes to show the same diligence. Yet, in other ways, such as this blog, I spend my ministry dedicating my mornings to studying and writing. Diligence doesn't necessarily mean doing the same thing over and over. God's a little more creative than that. It hopefully means that God has something new for you on the horizon. I am enjoying, thrilled, at this new endeavor that God has allowed me to be diligent in. I may be sluggish in housework, and sluggish in getting the laundry or shopping done, but I get up in the morning inspired with the full assurance of hope. I do it in part to leave a legacy for those, my family, to inherit the promises. But just because this is what I do, it doesn't mean that is what you are supposed to do. God has a different calling on each life. But change can be wonderful.
I'd like to be maybe not a pencil, but a laptop in the hand of God.
Adam Clarke says, "God is only bound to men by His own promise: this promise He is not obligated to make; but, when once made, His righteousness or justice requires Him to keep it; therefore, whatever He has promised He will certainly perform. But He has promised to reward every good work and labour of love, and He will surely reward yours; God's promise is God's debt...Every good work must spring from faith in the name, being, and goodness of God; and every work that is truly good must have love for its motive, as it has God for its end."
He goes on to say that the ministry to the saints was "to the support and comfort of the poor Christians who were suffering persecution in Judea...There might be reason to suspect that some, through fear of man, might not wish the good they did to be seen, lest they also should suffer persecution...He who is more afraid of man than he is of God Almighty, can have very little religion. As the Church of Christ required all those who in these times embraced the Gospel to be publicly baptized, those who submitted to this rite gave full proof that they were thoroughly convince of the truths of Christianity; and they gave this as a public pledge that they would be faithful."
Adam Clarke goes on, "Mr. Wesley says, 'The full assurance of faith, relates to present pardon; the full assurance of hope, to future glory.' The person who has this full assurance of hope is he who does not only knows and feels that his sins are forgiven through Christ Jesus, but also that his heart is purified from all unrighteousness, that the whole body of sin and death is destroyed, and that he is fully made a partaker of the Divine nature. As without holiness, complete, entire holiness, no man can see God; so, without this, none can scripturally or rationally hope for eternal glory."
Clarke continues, "slothfulness will deprive them both of hope and faith."
Andrew Murray says, "In every Christian community you have two classes. There are some who give themselves up with their whole heart to seek and serve God. There are others, too often the majority, who, like Israel, are content with deliverance from Egypt, and settle down in sloth, without striving for the full possession of the promise, the rest in the promised land...faith grasps at once all that God promises, but is in danger of relaxing its hold...We may lose in an hour what we gained in a year."
Danger, danger, danger!
Sluggish, slothfulness has no place in the Christian life.
Is it because we are to do more works to earn our salvation?
No, we should be motivated by love, hope and faith to do our best for our Master.