We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end. Hebrews 6:11
Those raised in the English village with William Carey (1761–1834) probably thought he wouldn’t accomplish much, but today he’s known as the father of modern missions. Born to parents who were weavers, he became a not-too-successful teacher and cobbler while teaching himself Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. After many years, he realized his dream of becoming a missionary to India. But he faced hardship, including his child’s death, his wife’s mental-health problems, and for many years the lack of response from those he served.
What kept him serving amid difficulties as he translated the entire Bible into six languages and parts of it into twenty-nine others? “I can plod,” he said. “I can persevere in any definite pursuit.” He committed to serving God no matter what trials he encountered.
This continued devotion to Christ is what the writer to the Hebrews counseled. He called for those reading his letter to not “become lazy” (Hebrews 6:12), but to “show this same diligence to the very end” (v. 11) as they sought to honor God. He reassured them that God “will not forget your work and the love you have shown” (v. 10).
During William Carey’s later years, he reflected on how God consistently supplied his needs. “He has never failed in His promise, so I cannot fail in my service to Him.” May God also empower us to serve Him day by day.
Reflect & Pray
How has God helped you to keep on going in your service for Him? In what way can you help someone else in their struggles?
Lord God, help me to follow You—when I face challenges and enjoy good times. May I know the assurance that You are always with me.
Is your belief system so ingrained that it guards you against temptation? If so, then certain issues have already been settled in your heart. Think about how beneficial that is: When you face certain situations in which you must choose whether to obey God, you don’t have to struggle. Why? Because that decision has already been made.
A settled mindset makes decisions easy because you don’t have to debate the pros and cons of submitting to temptation. Because your mind is already committed to obeying God, it won’t matter whether yielding is more convenient or profitable.
We find this in the example of Peter and John. Threats would not stop them from doing what the Lord had commanded. That’s the kind of commitment we should have. Living according to our convictions requires:
Commitment to a cause greater than ourselves—namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Peter and John, we need to have a love for Christ that surpasses any self-protection or self-interest.
Clarity regarding our beliefs. We should not only be fully convinced that God’s Word is true; we should also be able to handle it accurately in order to properly handle temptations and deceptions.
Expectation of conflict. Others may respond negatively to our obedience.
Trust in God’s sovereignty. He is in absolute control of the situation and working for our good.
When you are committed to living by your convictions, God will both strengthen you to stand firm and comfort you in any suffering that results.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)
“Beauty is only skin deep” seems to be the modern secular equivalent of this “woe” in Matthew 23. The corresponding Old Testament statement is probably this: “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion” (Proverbs 11:22). This principle has lasted for millennia simply because it is easily observed in all cultures. Our Lord’s application to the scribes and Pharisees was particularly pointed: “Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28). God is not interested in the “pretty outside” but in what’s on the inside. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Hypocrisy and iniquity are the two attributes of “uncleanness” identified by Christ. The core of hypocrisy is the intent to deceive others, either with actions or words. And the core of the biblical teaching about deception is the false teacher—those who look like and talk like God’s people, “but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). Iniquity is the biblical term for “without law.” Such a person has no desire to submit to authority, and is both willing to do evil and is dangerous to be around. Cain murdered Abel, the Bible insists, “because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:12).
Such a condition should never plague us. Jesus “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). HMM III
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
—1 Peter 4:8
Our lofty idealism would argue that all Christians should be perfect, but a blunt realism forces us to admit that perfection is rare even among the saints. The part of wisdom is to accept our Christian brothers and sisters for what they are rather than for what they should be….
There is much that is imperfect about us, and it is fitting that we recognize it and call upon God for charity to put up with one another. The perfect church is not on this earth. The most spiritual church is sure to have in it some who are still bothered by the flesh.
An old Italian proverb says, “He that will have none but a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless.” However earnestly we may desire that our Christian brother go on toward perfection, we must accept him as he is and learn to get along with him. To treat an imperfect brother impatiently is to advertise our own imperfections. WTA055
Give me patience and grace today in dealing with others’ imperfections. And give them the same grace in dealing with mine! Amen.
Thou openest Thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.—Psalm 145:16.
There ‘s not a craving in the mind
Thou dost not meet and still;
There’s not a wish the heart can have
Which Thou dost not fulfill.
Frederick W. Faber.
You will see the truth about the eternal life soon; I don’t think it is possible to live up to the highest point of duty and of happiness without this, I know one can go on doing one’s duty thoroughly under clouds of doubt, and even in complete unbelief; there are many who do, and they are dear to God, but the duty is done sadly, without the spring of life and joy that we are meant to have. That fountain of life and strength is hid in God. Christ showed us the way to it, and we get it into our souls when we utterly trust Him and give up our hearts, and our lives, and our aspirations to Him as to a faithful Creator, who will not leave unsatisfied any of the longings of the souls He has made; who will not let love die, or disappoint finally the cravings for joy, for perfection, for light and knowledge that He has implanted, and that are parts of Himself, immortal as He is.
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1Peter 5:6
This is tantamount to a promise: if we will bow down, the Lord will lift us up. Humility leads to honor: submission is the way to exaltation. That same hand of God which presses us down is waiting to raise us up when we are prepared to bear the blessing. We stoop to conquer. Many cringe before men, and yet miss the patronage they crave; but he that humbles himself under the hand of God shall not fail to be enriched, uplifted, sustained, and comforted by the ever-gracious One. It is a habit of Jehovah to cast down the proud, and lift up the lowly.
Yet there is a time for the Lord’s working. We ought now to humble ourselves, even at this present moment; and we are bound to keep on doing so whether the Lord lays His afflicting hand upon us or not. When the Lord smites, it is our special duty to accept the chastisement with profound submission. But as for the Lord’s exaltation of us, that can only come “in due time,” and God is the best judge of that day and hour. Do we cry out impatiently for the blessing? Would we wish for untimely honor? What are we at? Surely we are not truly humbled, or we should wait with quiet submission. So let us do.