Now the Word of Encouragement
“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation,” returns the Preacher. And so after the stern word of warning comes the encouraging word of assurance. And this is the way the word deals with us—it convicts or comforts us according to our need. Often we are too comfortable, so it convicts; often we are downcast and rightly convicted for our shortcomings, so it comforts. And so as believers, we live between these two poles of comfort and conviction according to the way we are walking and the message we need to hear. My Sunday School teacher in my teen years was right—God does beat us over the head with the Scriptures, but He also comforts us with the same.
The Preacher goes on, “God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.” What was the work that they had done for the saints? We are given a glimpse in 10:34: “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” It is recorded both here in Scripture and in other sources that when Christians were imprisoned or even being led to the arena for amusement, torture, and death, their brethren would often go with them, following them, and encouraging them to remain faithful even unto death. Of course, such support would usually land them in the same predicament not long afterwards and then the brethren would follow them. And why did they do this? Because they “desire[d] a better country, that is a heavenly one” (11:16). And this, they were still continuing to do.
And so having reminded them of both their former and present faithfulness, the Preacher continues his encouragement of them by holding before them that same hope—the hope of salvation, that hope of a better country ahead of them. For it is that hope that drives us forward, like the Apostle Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). And the Apostle John, “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 John 3:3). Such wondrous hope of glory kills sluggishness and makes us “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” those whom he will list for us in chapter eleven. So fix your eyes on the hope that belongs to you and let that hope compel you to grow in grace, die to sin, put on virtue, do deeds of mercy, and always love and serve the brethren.