Summary: We've come to the end of our journey through the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. As we finish out the chapter we will see in the beginning of Chapter 12 what the writer wants us to do as a result.
IT TAKES FAITH (part twelve)
INTRODUCTION: We've come to the end of our journey through the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. Hopefully in these last 3 months you've gained some insight and inspiration from looking at the examples of what these men and women accomplished by faith. In overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds and coming away victorious. In being willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. In choosing to obey regardless of the cost. But these models of faith aren't just there for our fascination; the writer wants us to do something as a result. What should our response be after having looked at all these wonderful examples of faith?
1) It takes faith be all in (32-40).
Heb. 11:32-38, "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.
Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground."
Here the writer lists a number of others who exhibited faith. You have people like Gideon, who took on an army of Midianites and Amalekites that scripture says were as thick as locusts and whose camels could no more be counted than the sands of the seashore with a mere 300 men and won! You have David who, even though he was just a teenager, took on a fierce nine-foot tall warrior all the while having no armor and carrying no sword or shield. With a sling and a stone he toppled the giant.
These things do not happen without faith. These are the examples we have so we would go and exhibit the same faith as they did. We may never take on a literal giant but we will certainly have to face proverbial ones. We may never have to take on a literal countless army where the odds are stacked against us but we will need to take on a massive spiritual army in our everyday spiritual battles. But we are not going into battle alone. We have the greatest warrior of all, Jesus, leading the way and fighting for us.
38-"The world was not worthy of them". The world was not worthy of their sacrifices and their love. Why? Because it wasn't appreciated. The world wasn't worthy because these people of faith continued to give of themselves over and over and it kept getting met with resistance and persecution. Not that no one appreciated or showed gratitude but I'm sure the majority of them didn't. No one in Noah's day had faith but him. No one in Jericho had faith but Rahab. Moses continued to have faith even though his own people were against him at times.
Maybe you're in a situation where no one around you has faith and it's a struggle. Obviously you're never truly alone because you have Jesus and you have the church but there may be places, whether it be at work or school or even your own home, where the only one who believes is you. You feel like it's you against the world. You can take heart in knowing that you can make it. Not only can you make it-but you can shine. You can do better than just survive-you can thrive in your environment-despite the odds-despite the opposition.
It takes faith to continue to do the right thing when there are others around you who aren't. And it definitely takes faith to continue to be loving and godly when people are not thankful for it. Because by faith we know that if no one else appreciates it God does and that becomes enough for us to continue.
But it especially takes faith to be godly and loving not just when people are unappreciative but when they're downright nasty towards you for it. It's one thing to not acknowledge my godly act towards you, but when someone actually has a negative reaction toward me when all I did was be nice can provoke us to come out of character real quick.
Despite people's reactions I need to remain faithful. That doesn't mean I need to continue to put up with negativity from certain people. I may need to back away and keep it moving but it will take faith to not develop a bad attitude to where I give up trying with anyone else. It takes faith to persevere when your love is met with hatred.