This is one of the grand chapters of the Bible, a gallery of notable portraits of ancient great believers, each drawn with a master hand. They all believed the unseen, they all trusted a promise, things for which they had to wait and hope. One grand characteristic makes them all kin—faith. Things adverse, matters contradictory, painful, long, they refused to permit to quench their faith. Their names are here inscribed on an immortal scroll. So great is their number that all cannot be named, the full list is recorded in heaven. – R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistle to the Hebrews and of the Epistle of James (Columbus, OH: Lutheran Book Concern, 1938), 372.
Christians are called to act because we have been acted upon! This is the push and pull of the life of faith. It is never simply reaction, it is also impression and expression. God impresses upon us his gift of love, the Gospel, which is trust and reliance upon Jesus Christ and all he has done for us. We then express that great gift to the world in acts of kindness.
The two: impression and expression seem so intertwined that we sometimes entangle them like codes of DNA, twisting and turning about one another. By doing so we make one reliant upon the other and they become equals. Good works (expression) become a “verification” of sorts, that faith (impression) is alive and real in us. Here’s the problem: our expressions always, in some way, betrays the impression of Christ upon us. We can never seem to reproduce the perfection of his words, his actions and most of all his intentions; we’re always misrepresenting him in some way.
Now of course, those receiving our expressions of faith don’t care. That’s good! When the recipient of our good works throws them back in our face because they aren’t good enough, we should take hope in like the Heroes in Hebrews that these expressions are done in part to help the recipient and in part because God has assigned us roles and responsibilities in the world.
But expressions of faith aren’t meant to only be a drudge. God has given us expressions of faith in order to benefit the world around us, in order to be reminded of God’s love shown to us, and to carry out the work of the Church which is (though misguided at times) to show Christ’s love in tangible ways.
The Heroes of Hebrews are such because they persisted in expressing their faith despite opposition from without and cynicism from within. May God enliven your expressions of faith to prioritize love towards others but never vindication of salvation from God.