As I read this passage, the word “approved” or in some translations “commended” strikes me. You see it in 11:2, 4, 5, and 38.
The word also has the idea of someone testifying to something. The question is, “who is testifying” and “what are they saying?”
The answer in Hebrews is clear: God is testifying concerning his people. And he says “These people please me.”
On what basis does he say that? Not for their actions, at least not primarily. But for their faith. God testifies of them “These people please me, not because they are perfect, but because they trust me.”
They trusted that God was truly there, and would reward them if they seek him. They believed that regardless of what was being offered to them by others, God had something better for them. (Hebrews 11:6, 15-16, 24-26, 35, 40).
They didn’t see this world as their permanent home. Rather, they saw themselves as foreigners, as temporary residents.
As a result, when they faced suffering and even death, they still kept trusting God and following him.
These are the people God commended. These are the people of whom God said, “They please me.”
It makes me think, “What does God say of me? What does he testify about me?”
We stand before a cloud of witnesses, all of whom stand approved of before God. Will we stand with them some day?
Lord God, like those who came before me, I am not perfect. I stand by your grace alone. But let my life be marked by a deep trust in you. And may the day come when you will say of me also, “Bruce was one who pleased me.”