And now, may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all that is pleasing to him. Jesus is the great Shepherd of the sheep by an everlasting covenant, signed with his blood. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. - Vs 20-21 (NLT)
In this closing chapter we have been encouraged to "let love of the brethren continue," to "not neglect to show hospitality to strangers," to "remember the prisoners as though in prison with them," to see that the marriage bed is "held in honor among all," to "make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have," and to "not be carried away by varied and strange teachings." We are reminded of the unique sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for our sins. In gratitude for what He has done we are to "continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Vs 15). And we are to please God by "doing good and sharing" (Vs 16). We're to obey our leaders, submit to them, and imitate their faith.
But how are we supposed to do all this? Is this just some kind of a gut-it-up, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of effort on our part? It all sounds great, but it also sounds impossible. At least for me. I find it hard to continue loving the brethren. Some of them aren't so lovable. I don't particularly like showing hospitality to strangers or even friends. I sometimes find it difficult to be content with what I have. And I don't always do a very good job of praising God and thanking Him for all He has done. Complaining and murmuring seem to come easier to me. So how am I supposed to pull this off without just gritting my teeth and trying like crazy to make it work?
That's where this closing prayer come in. My hope is in the same God who raised Jesus from the dead. He will equip me with all I need to do His will. That word equip means "to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be." God will fully provide what I need to do what He is calling me to do and become. It is God who produces in us the capacity to do what is pleasing to Him – all because of what Jesus has done for us. This is totally a God thing. Jesus is our Great Shepherd. He is the one who provides for us. He gives us the ability, the empowerment to do all the things mentioned in this chapter. In fact, they are a natural response to our growing dependence on and relationship with Him. So if we struggle with them, it is a sign of our need to depend more on Him and less on ourselves. I need to learn to turn to Him more and more for the strength to live the life I have been called to live. I don't need to gut it up and try harder. I need to give up and lean harder on Him. That means spending more time in His Word, more time on my knees, and less time living in my own strength. Not only is salvation God's work, our sanctification is as well. That Greek word translated equip can also mean to repair, restore, or mend. It was used when speaking of restoring something back to the way it was originally supposed to be. So God is restoring us back to the condition He first intended for mankind. He is perfecting us. He is repairing what was broken by the fall and marred by sin. He is doing it, not us. That is why the writer of Hebrews says "to Him be the glory, forever and ever." God gets all the glory, not us. Because He is doing ALL the work. He is doing in me what I could never do. All because of what Jesus has done for me. To God be the glory!
Father, I can't thank You enough for the reminder this morning that it is ALL up to You. You are the one who equips me with what I need to live this remarkable life to which I have been called. You give me the capacity to do the things You call me to do, those things that are pleasing to You. All because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ Your Son. Thank You! Amen