The book of Hebrews is an interesting one for a number of reasons: It is the best-written Greek book of the New Testament, its author is unknown, and it is famously one of Martin Luther’s “disputed” books.
There are differing schools of thought regarding the nature of the text (Is it a letter, a sermon, or a commentary?), its place of origin (Rome, Alexandria, or Corinth?), the year it was written, and its author.
While the whole of Gert Steyn’s masterclass on Hebrews was a valuable and informative discussion of the book, one particular point he made stood out to me: The author gave God the limelight. The anonymous author of Hebrews fades into the background and the focus becomes God’s voice and message. This is itself a lesson, whether intentional or not.
How often do we fall into the trap of seeking the glory instead of giving it all to the Lord? In which ways do we long for earthly approval instead of God’s? How often do we get caught up in the details of “window-dressing” instead of focusing on the heart and intent of a matter?
How refreshing, then, to realize that the author of Hebrews was successful in keeping a low profile while pointing us towards Jesus, the New Covenant, and faith and perseverance. While it had probably taken some time to learn to write at the level in this book, the author of Hebrews used their gift for language to glorify God. This brings 1 Peter 4:10–11 (NIV) to mind:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Colossians 3 (Col 3:23–24 NIV) ends with a similar reminder:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters … It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I find these passages challenging in so many ways! They lead me to examine my own conduct:
- Am I being a faithful steward and using my gifts to serve others?
- Do I speak words of wisdom and life; words that would be pleasing to God?
- Do I rely on God’s strength instead of my own?
- Are God and Jesus praised through all the things I do?
- Do I work and serve as though for Christ himself?
In short, am I giving God the limelight? I wish I could answer with a resounding “Yes, always!” But that simply wouldn’t be true.
It does, however, give me something to pray about and work at. No matter the context, we can ask God for his strength, for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and for him to use us for the purpose of his kingdom.
Like the anonymous author of Hebrews, let’s be sure to give God the credit in all that we do.
- To watch the masterclass on Hebrews by Gert Steyn, follow this link.
- Contact SATS to find out more about studying God’s word.
- Another article on the SATS blog discusses Hebrews 7 and tithing—find it here.