Hebrews 11:38 AMP [Men] of whom the world was not worthy . . .
As I read the chapter of Hebrews this morning commonly referred to as the “hall of fame of faith,” the above phrase arrested my attention in a way it never has before. Immediately previous to this verse was the brief mention of various men and women who lived before Christ came, yet they believed. For their faith in what never manifested during their lifetime, some were mighty and strong in this life – in the power of His Spirit. Others, refusing to deny the One in Whom they believed, were tortured in many ways, and died gruesome deaths at the hands of those who didn’t believe.
Yet, what does this verse say? The world was not worthy of them. They lived as though Christ had already come. They lived so others would see Him, simply because they believed that God’s Word and His promises were true. And then they died without seeing those promises fulfilled. Still, they went from this earthly life into eternity without wavering in their faith. How?
I don’t think this chapter is at all about the faith of the ones mentioned in it. Rather, it’s about the faithfulness of the One Who promised them what they never saw in the natural. The people who are mentioned were so focused on Him that the extreme difficulties in this life were unable to divert their attention to their temporary troubles. They simply believed God was True.
How much better for us as believers today, for Christ has come, fulfilling the promise! We can know with certainty the faithfulness of our God, where those mentioned in Hebrews 11 could only hope. We have the written Word and the ability to read it for ourselves, with Holy Spirit as the Teacher Jesus promised would come – not having to rely solely on the teaching of others. The world is not to be worthy of us, either.
It has everything to do with our focus, not with our perfect words and actions. The more aware we become of Jesus Christ and His righteousness, and that we are (not will be) God’s righteousness in Christ Jesus1, the less consumed we are with our human failings and weaknesses. This is when we find the strength to endure the struggles of our own lives. Jesus becomes our indivertible focus. Just as the world was not worthy of Him, the world is no longer worthy of us, either.
Oh, Lord, my prayer is selfish, even while including the entire body of Christ. I’m asking You to help us so see Christ that our self-focus dims. May the totality of our desire be that the world sees Jesus when they see us, not because we try so much harder to be Christ-like, but because we are so full of Him alone. Help us to quit negating what You have already said about us – that we are Your righteousness in Christ, and that as He is so are we in this world2 – by reminding You of our every wrong thought, word, and deed. Instead, help us to stay firmly entrenched in the complete, forever, nothing-left-out, finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross! May You, alone, receive all glory and honor and praise, even as we stand firmly in the Truth that the world is not worthy of us, just as it was not worthy of our Christ. Thank You for what You have already done, precious Lord Jesus! Amen.