Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever. Hebrews 10:32-34 (NLT)
Hebrews speaks to many second-generation Christ followers who came out of strict Judaism in a period of cruel persecution both from their own people, the Jews, and the Romans. Without the Scriptures as we have them today, these young believers were in danger of giving up their faith and returning to Judaism. As in the parable of the Sower and the Seed, the cares of this world along with persecution for believing in Christ were causing some to fall away. The same is true for Christ followers today. When problems come as a result of our faith, we’re tempted to give up and return to our old way of life. The writer of Hebrews is encouraging these young believers to remember their experience when they first learned about Christ. Despite the early hardships and suffering, they didn’t quit. In fact, he says, “when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy.” (vs. 34b) Think about that for a minute. If everything you owned were taken from you for your faith in Christ, would you accept it with joy? What are you holding on to the most in this life? Are you holding on more to the things God has given you or to the God who gave you all things? Do you place more trust and value in what you have or in the Giver Himself? How could these early followers have everything they owned taken from them and accept it with joy? The answer is in the last part of the verse. “You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever!” (vs. 34c) That’s the difference an eternal perspective can make. But, keeping that eternal perspective is the challenge. That’s why the writer of Hebrews encourages them,
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. “For just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And My righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. (Vs. 35-39)
Saving faith is enduring faith. We are not saved because we endure through trials. We endure because we have been saved. Patient endurance is evidence of genuine faith. When our faith is under fire and we experience loss and hardship, even suffering under severe trial, we can take comfort in knowing that better things are waiting for us that will last forever!