An Abiding Possession
“For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34).
After embracing Christ with great joy, some in the original audience of the epistle to the Hebrews began to waver in their commitment to Christ. This wavering made it necessary for the author of Hebrews to give them strong warnings against turning away from Christ. He wanted them to persevere and avoid the strong judgment that comes to those who profess Christ and later fall away (6:4–8).
Many of these warnings to his audience come in the second half of chapter 10. However, while these warnings are necessary and must never be ignored, the author knew that with these warnings, encouragement was also needed. Warnings by themselves might paralyze an audience in fear, but coupled with true encouragement they will result in repentance and the perseverance of God’s elect.
These encouragements are possible for only two reasons. One is the confidence that the elect will persevere until the end and never lose their salvation. The other reason comes from the realization that perseverance is a process. As the lives of David and Peter show, true believers may sin heinously and yet be restored in faith. It is also true that all who confess Christ may doubt and sin and still be restored.
In today’s passage, the author reminds his readers of times past when they had compassion on those in prison and when they joyfully accepted the plundering of their property. This shows us that the audience had already experienced some of the persecutions that came from being a Christian. Some of them had been imprisoned, and those who were still free came to their aid. By helping imprisoned believers, they ran the risk of being persecuted as well.
In short, the author is showing them that in times past they gave evidence of their salvation by performing the love and good works that are required of all true believers (v. 24). In light of this they must continue to do so. One sure sign of the work of Christ in our hearts is that we care for those who are in danger on account of their faith.
The audience could do these things when first converted because they knew of their abiding possession (v. 34), that is, heaven. They began to waver only because they had forgotten their eternal treasure. They only became concerned for their physical safety when they took their eyes off the prize of their heavenly possession.
Where do you fix your hope? Are your eyes on the perfection of heaven or have you become overly concerned with the things of this world? Look at your life, your goals, how you spend your money, your concerns, and so on. Take some steps to change whatever might need to be changed for the good of your eternal reward.
Passages for Further Study
Dan. 3:8–30, Matt. 6:19–21, Luke 12:13–21, Gal. 4:21–31