Putting God's Word into Practice…

Hebrews 6:9-12 ~ Earnestness

on March 14, 2013

As I was shutting my Bible yesterday, the phrase in verse 12, “so that you may not be sluggish,” caught my eye.  So I wanted to commit my study time today to the context of the word-sluggish–since this is the only place that it is found in the whole Bible.

Though we speak in this way, (regarding dull hearing, the immaturity of laying only a foundation, and also the ability to fall away from the Lord when one’s foundation is missing the Cornerstone of Jesus.) yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.  For 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. And we desire EACH ONE OF YOU to show the SAME EARNESTNESS to have the full assurance of hope until the end, SO THAT YOU MAY NOT BE SLUGGISH, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:9-12

Sluggish: slow in moving, inactive, lacking energy or alertness, slow to make progress, lazy, idle, stagnant.

Sluggish is an interesting word to use in describing a Christian’s life.  Many times we are told in Scripture that life is a race–the opposite of sluggish.  At least three times we are told to stay alert–again the opposite of sluggish.  In the most recent verses in this letter, the author wrote that the Christian life is one of progress and maturity; building on a foundation–once again the opposite of sluggish.  And finally in verse 9-10, the conclusion is drawn that true salvation results in faith-motivated work and love-driven service–the opposite of sluggish.

Sluggishness in the Christian’s life is a sign of waning love for the name of the Lord.  When I read the word sluggish, I immediately think of a clogged drain.  What slows down, halts or backs up the flow of love, works, and service?  Here’s some I’ve recognized even today in my own heart.

  • selfishness
  • prideful/critical spirit
  • anxiety
  • bitterness
  • impatience
  • forgetful about my future hope
  • busy with my own agenda
  • unforgiving toward others

We see the opposite of being sluggish as earnestness in verse 11.  Earnestness can be defined as sincere and intense conviction, commitment, dedication, zeal, passion, wholeheartedness, and fervor.  Is that how I define my love for the Lord and my service to His people?  If not, then there is a clog in my pipe somewhere that needs to be dealt with.

Or to use the metaphor from earlier in chapter six, earnestness in love, works and service is the construction that happens on the foundation of salvation.  It is proof of understanding repentance, grace and forgiveness.  It is a sign of maturity.  Earnestness displays eternal hope and confidence in the gospel.  It is a heart that presses on in faith and patience.

Christians united in earnestness have great power to build something amazing!  I pray that we would pursue earnestness–wholehearted passion–in our love for the Lord and service to each other.  We have a hope and promises that can’t be shaken–that is the “General Contractor” for our earthly lives.

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