Have you ever talked to a new Christian a month or so after his/her baptism? I have. You might think that they would still be on top of the world, but often they wonder why they feel like the world is against them. Living the Gospel is not an easy task to begin with and the new Christian can be surprised by the challenges. One woman began to have nightmares about past issues in her life. Another person was surprised that his friends didn’t want him around because he was now too “holy.” Just as with Adam and Eve, Satan can be jealous of their relationship with God and wants to stir up trouble. In this passage from Hebrews, the early Christians are reminded of the abuse they suffered because of following Christ. They are told to hold fast to their confidence in God. We need to stay firm in our confidence in God whether we are new to Christianity or have been Christians from our youth. Life is always going to throw hardships at us. Some will shake our faith and there will be those who will say that these hardships mean either that there is no God, or that God has abandoned us. Not true. God is with us in the difficult times. As with the early Christians, we need to stand firm and persevere in our faith, knowing that God will never abandon us. All we need to do is call upon him. Because we have been shown extravagant love, we are called to love others. When we think of those society tends to forget (the widows, the orphans, the strangers, and the poor), it is up to us to extend love, mercy, and compassion. But, this verse also goes further than just helping those in need, we must also avoid even thinking evil against others in are heart. Our hearts should be brimming over with love and compassion because we are Christ followers.
In the book of Titus, there are many instructions for how people should behave and carry themselves. Here we see that older men are to be patient. That certainly contrasts the newspaper cartoon image of a grumpy old man yelling at kids. The instructions are not so you have more rules. It is how we believers set ourselves apart from the world and how they see Jesus in us.
Lord, help me live in a way that others see You in me. Make me sound minded, having solid faith, and patient. Let me be giving and generous with my possessions and time. I pray for the older men in my church. Conform them to Your character. Keep growing and maturing them until they walk their last day with You. Thank You for Your instruction and wisdom You have given us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.