Meditations in Hebrews 13: 69. God working in me
Heb 13:20,21 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
As we have often commented, it is so easy to pass by words or phrases in Scripture and ignore them or skim over them so that we do not take in the wonder of them. I was about to do that with the end of verse 21 when I believe He arrested by attention with the words, “and may he work in us what is pleasing to him.”
Now throughout recent studies we have been noting the fact that God works in us to change us to become like Jesus in both character and service and so you might be forgiven for wondering why I should pause up with these words that just accentuate what we have covered already a number of times recently. Well, I believe the reason for doing this is that whenever we have noted this recently it has been as part of others things and looking at them means we haven’t focused on these words.
Throughout this book the writer has been bringing warning after warning to hold to the faith and hold to the plan of God for our lives as laid out in the apostles’ teaching. All of these things speak about our lives being changed. Now, yes, I am aware that this has come up more than a few times but as we draw near to the end of the book we need to hold to this focus, that the Christian life is all about change, and it is change, as we saw in the previous study, because He equips us to conform to His will, His plans and purposes for us. All that follows below is an expression of that.
Change of Perspective: At various times within this book we have had put before us, by this Jewish-Christian, the fact that there are major differences between the Old and New Covenants. The Old Covenant was all about keeping to the Law, but the Israelites had found it impossible to do that and so law-keeping is always accompanied by a sense of failure and guilt. Keeping to the rules, abiding by and following various religious rituals just doesn’t bring about transformation of being, a holy person. No, the New Covenant isn’t about keeping rules, about trying to be good, about trying to impress God, it is about simply receiving His love and His goodness, receiving His Holy Spirit and the Lordship direction of Jesus as the head of his body, the Church, as he rules from beside of his Father in heaven. It is now all about receiving his love and goodness and knowing the joy of being one of his children. The first change therefore is of a change of perspective, which brings a change of life and behaviour.
Change in thinking about God: The second change which flows out of his must be in respect of how we think about God and how we respond to Him in daily life. We have already spoken about receiving God’s love and goodness and implied within that must be that we appreciate and understand it more and more. Many Christians just don’t take in and absorb the fact that “God is love.” (1 Jn 4:8,18) and everything He thinks, says or does in respect of us is an expression of love. When we truly come to understand this, then whenever we need help we will all the more eagerly come into His presence in prayer, all the more will we seek understanding of Him and His ways through His word, and all the more find ourselves expressing worship in respect of Him.
Change in thinking about others: The third change that takes place in us, that God is working in us, is in respect of everyone around us. His word is very clear on this and so His Holy Spirit will be working in us in this area. Suddenly we start seeing people in new ways and we find such things as compassion and care or patience and tolerance where we had not known them previously. We find ourselves listening to people rather than wanting to hear only our own voice. Where once we were selfish and purely self-concerned we find a strange warmth, love and concern rising in us for others.
All of these things are “pleasing to him”, pleasing to God, because they are His heart for all people and He delights when He sees His children expressing the same characteristics as His Son, Jesus Christ, and as we live our lives like this, so we will glorify Him as well as blessing others. Change in us, bringing change into the world, all these things are the things on God’s heart that brings Him pleasure as He works in us and through us to restore people to Himself and bring more and more love and goodness into His world.