God’s Keeping Power (A Study in Hebrews)

Read Hebrews 6:11-15.

I’m reminded of the Energizer Bunny who had the power to keep on keeping on. Myself? I’m a Duracell man. But both batteries do well at what they’re supposed to do: keep whatever they’re placed in going for an extended period of time.

Though batteries don’t run me, I have something—rather Someone—inside of me that can keep me keeping on in certain areas for much longer than a battery can.

God Gives Power to Keep Loving

“Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true” (Hebrews 6:11 NLT).

I’m the first to admit, I’m not perfect. Never have been. And I’m sure there have been many times when acquaintances, friends, family, and co-workers have found me difficult to love. Yet in spite of what I know about myself, I still frequently find it hard to love others unqualitatively.

Such as the church member serving as treasurer who got mad because the ruling authorities decided they would have the books audited annually. He took this as an affront to his credibility and took his anger out on me.

Or the woman who blatantly accused my wife of trying to take over things in the church…activities no one else was doing.

And the deacon who wanted to “think” about allowing me to be bi-vocational, even though the church couldn’t pay me enough to live on.

And who can forget the man who challenged my decision to have a toilet at the church repaired without first voting on it at a church business meeting?

All people who were difficult to love. Whoever wrote this letter wanted these believers to keep on loving those difficult-to-love people. In fact, their love would fulfill all God’s commands and keep them from becoming spiritually dull and indifferent.

Just after loving God with our entire heart and being comes loving our neighbors as we do ourselves. The above are just a few neighbors I had difficulty loving. There have been many more. But then again, loving people only when they’re easy to love doesn’t take much effort—or love—and doesn’t even define love.

Unconditional is a better term. The way God loves us when we disobey him, affront him, neglect him, try to manipulate him, and totally disregard him.

God Gives Power to Keep Working

“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12 NIV).

Laziness wasn’t allowed in my home of origin. As a first born child, my parents were out to make me responsible. Early on, I was given chores to do: take out the trash, help with the dishes, make my bed, and clean my room.

At twelve, I was using my parents’ push mower to cut neighbors’ yards for a small sum. When I turned fourteen, my grandfather procured me a job as a bag boy at a local supermarket. As an added source of funds, I also cleaned the church my father pastored.

As soon as I graduated high school, I entered the world of full-time work and have been there since. Some days I feel like being lazy—and am, but most of my time is consumed with work and doing other things I enjoy. Sitting around isn’t my style.

My parents didn’t appreciate laziness, and it appears from this verse and many others that God doesn’t look favorably on it either. Yes, rest has its place—God demonstrated that by taking a day off when he had finished the work of creation—but the norm is for us to work diligently during the years we are able to.

Though I’ve never been lazy in secular work, I have experienced times when I have been lazy with God’s business. Those times when I just didn’t feel like attending church, reading my Bible, saying my prayers, visiting the sick, checking on the shut-ins, teaching a class, monitoring the nursery, etc. And of course, when my attitude sours it becomes increasingly difficult to share my faith. Inviting someone to follow Christ with a sour attitude and a face to match usually isn’t very inviting.

Just as physical laziness can affect our health, spiritual laziness will bear on our spiritual health. There will be days when we won’t feel like going to work, but we should go anyway. And there will be times when Satan discourages us in God’s work, but we must maintain the course, knowing that our work for God is crucial and will be rewarded by him.

God Gives Power to Keep Our Promises

“For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name” (Hebrews 6:13 NLT).

He was currently serving as the United States military advisor to the Philippines. The day after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor—December 7, 1941—they launched an invasion against his adopted home. He was finally forced to flee his island fortress in 1942. Unfortunately, 90,000 American and Filipinos were left behind without adequate provisions or protection. As he fled to Australia, he made a promise to the people of the Philippines: “I shall return.”

Over the next two and one-half years, it was a promise he repeated on a number of occasions. On October 20, 1944, shortly after his troops had landed on the island of Leyte, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore and made a public radio announcement: “People of the Philippines. I have returned!”

God told Abraham to leave his homeland and head for a place he’d never seen before. God promised he would stand by Abraham’s side as he traveled. He would also give him descendants as numerous as the stars in the heaven and the sands on the seashore. The assurance of the promise came when God swore by his own name, a name above which there was none greater.

When I make a promise, a handshake won’t suffice. Nor will saying, “I promise to pay,” or “I promise to do . . .” Anything I purchase on credit or any service I promise to perform must be accompanied by mounds of paperwork and countless signatures as well as initialing. In addition to protecting the one I’m doing business with, the contracts protect me.

In spite of the legal issues involved in any purchase or act of service, we should be as good as our word. God was, and he’s our great example. He never reneges on his promise to love and care for us.

Empty promises are of no value and reflect poorly on the one we claim to represent. Our “I shall return”—or pay or do this—promises should be legitimate, well-intentioned, and only postponed or broken when there are extenuating circumstances.

God Gives Power to Keep Waiting

“Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised” (Hebrews 6:15 NLT).

I’m the king of impatient. While growing up, one of my parents’ and grandparents’ favorite sayings to me was, “That money is burning a hole in your pocket.” They were right. What little money I earned from allowance I quickly spent.

Interestingly, my wants usually occurred somewhere in close proximity to my birthday or Christmas. I was cautioned about buying things so close to these special days. “Wait and see if you get it for Christmas or your birthday,” they would say. Rarely did I. As I proudly displayed my new purchase, I often heard a sigh. Now they would have to think of something else to get me . . . or even take back what they had already purchased.

God promised Abraham a son through whom millions of descendants would come. Twenty-five years passed from God’s initial promise to the son’s actual birth. Abraham’s patience was interrupted by his wife’s impatience. She suggested they hurry God along. She gave her servant in marriage to Abraham as a surrogate mother. God wasn’t pleased, but still kept his promise.

People say not to pray for patience because I probably won’t like the methods God uses to develop it in me. Nowadays, I rarely do, but I’ve discovered God uses the methods they were referencing anyway. God manufactures patience in me through life experiences that teach me to wait even though the money still burns my leg.

Though we don’t always appreciate the methods God uses to test and develop our patience, the fact that we allow him to use them demonstrates our trust level. His methods are varied, sometimes illogical, and may seem unending, but he sees end results we can’t.

Through God’s mercy-driven tests, we learn to take things in stride without getting angry, upset, or running ahead of him. And to top it off, he produces spiritual growth and maturity so we can be a spiritual guide to those who follow in our footsteps.