For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has built the house has more honor than the house.…
The word which is rendered "confidence" in this verse is not the same as that which appears in other places in the same chapter. "We are made partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," says the fourteenth verse. "We are His house if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." The two things are substantially the same, and yet there is a shade of difference in the meaning of each of them. The word in my text translated "confidence" literally means "frank speech" saying everything is literally the rendering of the expression. And the thought is just this, when you are upon terms of perfect confidence with anybody, as we say, we "know him," or "I can say anything I like to him." And that is the sort of thing this writer enjoins as the essential of the Christian man's relationship to God. Two friends, two lovers, a parent and a child, that understand each other, it does not matter much what they are talking about; anything will serve, because each knows that down to the very bottom of the other heart it is joy to that other heart to make itself manifest. But if there be the slightest tinge of distrust or alienation, like a sensitive plant, the leaves all fold themselves together, and so shut themselves up, and constraining silence comes. So, says my text, this marks the true relation to God, that there is such perfect trust that there is perfect frankness. And so you get, you know, such other words as these in this same Epistle, about "having access with confidence," about "coming boldly to the Throne of grace," and the like, all of them carrying the same suggestion of intimacy. Hold fast the frank speech, which is a child of trust, and the trust which is the parent of the frank speech. And my text gives us a practical hint when it calls this temper and disposition the confidence of hope. It is precisely in the measure in which we cherish the Christian hope with regard to that future — that guilt, and with guilt anxiety, and with anxiety fear, being all done away with, there comes this full and free communication. The child that doubts the father's favour, and is conscious of its own faults, sulks in the corner and says nothing. The child that is sure of its Father's forgiveness, and is conscious of its own faults, has no rest till it tells its faults. And so the frankness which comes of confidence is based upon that assurance which covers all the future with a great light of hope, and all the past with a great light of pardon and oblivion. And then the other side of this disposition is conveyed by that other significant word, "Hold fast," not only the confidence, but the "glorying," which is more nearly the meaning of the word than the "rejoicing" of our version, the "glorying," which likewise is the fruit of hope. Now, this "glorying" does not mean an act of glorying, but it means the subject matter, or the occasion. That is to say, it does not describe a man's disposition or notion, but it describes something outside of him, which excites that emotion, and on which it is fixed. So you see my text has two horns to it, as it were; the one lays hold of something in me, and says to me, "You see to it that you hold fast your confidence," and the other points to something without me, and says, "In order that you may see that you keep hold of the thing which entitles you to rejoice, to triumph, to glory, to boast yourselves." That is to say, we have here set forth the great facts of the gospel, all gathered up into that one word, the matter for our boasting, and that boasting which is no self-complacent bragging of our own strength, but a certain triumphant exultation in a thing that lies outside of us, and with which we have nothing to do but accept it, that glorying, the confidence of which I have been speaking, is, in a certain sense, the child of hope. For the more we are familiar with the great issues to which God is leading us, if we will, the more we shall keep firm hold of the ground for rejoicing and triumph which lies in the message of His love. And all life. with all its bitterness, with its changes, and defeats, and sorrows, it will all, smitten, as it were, into beauty by this light of the future that falls upon it, it too will all become material for triumph, for exultation, for gladness. And now let me say a word as to the effort that is required to keep this hold of which my text speaks. The word is a very vivid and very natural one, the metaphor strong but most familiar, the grasp of a muscular hand which tightens itself round something that it will not part with, is set before us as the analogue to which our Christian disposition and temper is to be conformed. And so we come just to these two practical advices — "Hold fast the inward emotion; and hold fast the outward Object upon which it rests." How do you hold fast an inward emotion? How call we stereotype and make permanent the flowing currents of our inward life? Perhaps not absolutely is it possible for us to do so. All emotion is evanescent. Well then, swiftly renew it as it dies. The carbon points in the electric lamp burn away with tremendous rapidity, but there is a little mechanical action behind them which keeps pushing them forward with proportionate swiftness, so that there is always a fresh surface presented to be consumed and to be illuminated. And so you and I can do, day by day renewing the temper which day by day is dropping away, as it were, burnt out, we can cultivate the habit of frank speech to God. If you want to hold fast your confidence, cultivate as you can the habit of coming near to God, and telling Him everything. And that we may, let us beware of dropping into the evils which certainly will break that communion and will darken that confidence. For no man will be on frank terms with God that has not got coiled in his heart some evil which he knows to be a devil, and yet will not cast out. And then, on the other hand, as we have to cultivate the inward emotion, so we have to cultivate our firm grasp of the outward thing, the material and ground of our glorying and of our hope. All muscular effort tends to relaxation. That is to say, if a man lays hold of a rope ever so tightly, unless there is a continual renewal of the muscular impulse the grasp will slacken by degrees. There are three ways by which you lose your hold of God's truth. Some of you let it be dragged out of your hands by violence; some of you let it drop out of your hands by carelessness; and some of you fling it away out of your hands because you want to clutch something else. And so for all three ways by which men lose their Christianity here comes the exhortation: hold fast the ground of your glorying, and keep a tight grip of Jesus Christ. Those whose slack hands let Him go generally open their hands a finger at a time, or a joint at a time, and do not know what they are doing until the palm is open and empty.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.