The author of Hebrews is concerned for each individual and wants to be sure that each one receives God’s grace offered in Christ. He wants every single one to experience the marvelous grace of God. Hebrews 12:15 begins, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” He seems to exhort each one of us to look out for the other in this regard. It sounds like the Marine Corp motto for troops in the field. One commentator quotes from an ancient commentator, Chrysostom, who says, “As if they were travelling together on some long journey, in a large company, he says, ‘Take heed that no man be left behind;’ I do not seek this only, that ye may arrive yourselves, but also that ye should look diligently after the others”[1]

Back in the early chapters of Genesis after Cain bludgeoned his brother to death, God confronted him and asked him “where is your brother, Abel?” He answered God in Genesis 4:9 saying, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper.” I believe the answer to Cain’s question according to this verse and many others is an obvious “yes, yes you are!” We are often exhorted to “love one another in both the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18) and the New Testament (Matthew 22:39). The Epistles mention it at least 10 times! Earlier in Hebrews the author challenged us to “consider how to encourage each other to love and good deeds.” It might be said that the “good deeds” referred to here is specifically responding to God’s discipline positively.

Chapter 12 begins with the teaching that God allows hardships and pain into our lives for our good. It’s the perfect Father’s way to discipline us. We always think of discipline as being the consequences we get for something we’ve done wrong. But this is not played out in the Scriptures. Discipline in this context is what coaches do with their athletes to help them become better players. He presents before them formidable obstacles that makes them stronger and faster. God, our loving Father, presents us in life with challenges that press against our faith to make it stronger. During those times of challenges, we need to remember that all these things, even the death of loved ones, will work out for our good. Even when the promises don’t seem to be coming true in this life, we’re to remember that this isn’t all there is. There is another life beyond the grave. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of this truth as their loved ones were passing away while the promises of Jesus’ return remain distant. He reminds the sufferers that even those who have passed on before them will be raised back to life and those who remain alive will be reunited with them on that day. He then closes with “Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18). He wants us all to know that no man will be left behind!

[1] Marcus Dods, “The Epistle to the Hebrews,” in The Expositor’s Greek Testament: Commentary, vol. 4 (New York: George H. Doran Company, n.d.), 370.