It has been a long week. And a long day. And a long (ok… it seems to be long) book.
But let’s see what the author of Hebrews say…
And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation, for I have written to you in few words.
~ Hebrews 13:22
It seems quite strange of the author to end this way.
He was asking the readers to “bear” with the word… He was asking them to tolerate, to be patient or to put up with his words. Some people say that this also carried with it a command that the readers continue receiving and listening to what he had to say. They are to keep on running the race and not get disqualified!
Actually when you think about it, it was necessary for the readers to hear this.
They were in the midst of persecutions. They were surrounded by iniquities and people wanting to distort the truth. Some were indifferent while others have slacken in their faith. And some have itching ears and grown tired of listening to the same teachings.
It is like how Paul encouraged Timothy:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
~ 2 Tim 4:2-5
Timothy was to bear the encouragement of Paul to be ready in season and out of season – and to be able to reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and wisdom because there will be those who will not endure sound doctrine but want to have their ears tickled and turn aside to fables.
The author also calls the “word”, the “word of exhortation”.
He is not asking us to bear with any simple words, or gossipy words. He is telling us to bear with the word of exhortation – words that bring solace, comfort, strength, consolation and hope and much much more.
These are the Words of Jesus. The Word of God. And the Word of Truth.
I find it quite funny that the author says, “I am writing to you briefly” (my paraphrase). Even in the olden times, they have problems of speakers going on and on 🙂
But seriously, the author wanted them to know that he is writing to them briefly. Not because he did not have anything to say … in fact, for 3 times, he said he actually had much more to say (Heb 5:11; 9:5 and 11:32).
But he knew that the importance of the subject has to get through to the believers. And he wanted to hit all the important points. He wanted the people to listen, ponder about the message and do something.
This few verses serves as a good reminder for myself on how I listen to sermons.
I must learn to “bear” with the “word of exhortation”. Meaning… I must prepare my heart each time to be receptive to the Word of God. And as I hear these words of exhortation, I should keep them in my heart, meditate upon it and then do it.
Someone once said:
The effectiveness of my preaching does not just depend on how well I preach, but also how well you listen.”
I certainly do not know who said it but it makes a lot of sense. We can complain that the speaker is boring or uninteresting… but have we taken a good look at ourselves and see if we are the ones at fault?
Jesus taught us… “Take care how you listen” (Luke 8:18).
How will you listen during this Sabbath?