7 Remember your leaders. They spoke God’s word to you. Think about the results of their way of life. Copy their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Don’t be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good that God’s grace makes our hearts strong. Don’t depend on foods the Law requires. They have no value for the people who eat them. 10 Some worship at the holy tent. But we have an altar that they have no right to eat from. 11 The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Room. He brings their blood as a sin offering. But the bodies are burned outside the camp. 12 Jesus also suffered outside the city gate. He suffered to make the people holy by spilling his own blood. 13 So let us go to him outside the camp. Let us be willing to suffer the shame he suffered. 14 Here we do not have a city that lasts. But we are looking for the city that is going to come. 15 So let us never stop offering to God our praise through Jesus. Let us offer it as the fruit of lips that say they believe in him. 16 Don’t forget to do good. Don’t forget to share with others. God is pleased with those kinds of offerings.
The writer of Hebrews talks of our hearts being “strengthened by grace.” This is written in contrast to the practicing of empty rituals which are of no such benefit. If I think about it, one of the most consistently read about, thought about, and talked about topics around the world is how one can be encouraged, strong, persistent, and fervent in heart. Here in Hebrews, grace is the answer. Grace, in the person and work of Jesus, as the writer goes on to talk about in verses 12-16. And I wondered, what are the empty rituals that I engage in to try and strengthen my heart, where what I really need is the grace of God? With reference to my productivity at work, I can think of countless times where I’ve written another to-do list, done another clearing of my inbox, or tried another productivity app, where what I really needed to do was ask for and expect the grace of God to help me strengthen what was weak in me, and overcome what was broken in my approach.
I need to ask God for His strengthening grace. And expect the fruit of this strength in my heart and life growing in strength, fervency, and consistently. Instead of relying upon empty rituals that have the apparent promise of strengthening my heart, what instead I need to do is look to what God has done for me in Jesus – providing a grace that empowers me to live a life worthy of the God who made me, and practically builds within me the kind of character that will be able to live this worthy life.
Lord, to you I look for strengthening grace. May my heart grow to know your strengthening grace more and more. May my heart love and develop a deep and lasting affection for your strengthening grace, such that at all times and in all situations, I grow less and less distracted by the hollow alternatives that inevitably pop up. Amen.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh