by Mike Ratliff
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
A huge part of the Lord’s discipline is designed to eradicate within His people a love for this world. How can it be pleasing to God for His people to love the system that despised His Son and killed Him? Yes believers must live the lives God has given them here amidst people who are not His. God uses this to discipline and reprove His people. Unlike the message of many false teachers in our day, sickness, conflict, and trouble are not outward signs of God’s displeasure with a believer, but are, in fact, His work of sanctifying those in whom He delights.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:3-6 (NASB)
The “Him” in v3 in this passage is Christ. Like the Lord Jesus, genuine believers have experienced the hostility of sinners. Some experience this in forms of violence, but more often it is exclusion or discrimination. However, the writer of Hebrews is telling us that Christ endured and suffered so that believers may not grow weary or fainthearted. How are believers to “not grow weary or fainthearted” when they endure the hostility of the world?
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NASB)
The Christian walk is a day-by-day affair. We must walk through each day as part of a race, which God has set before us, by looking unto Jesus, the author and founder and perfecter of our faith. We look to Christ as our holy and godly example of how to endure the temporal as God uses its pressure and trouble to perfect our faith and burn away all in us that looks to the flesh or the temporal for fulfillment. The believer is called to seek to be fulfilled in Christ alone. None of us can do this in our own abilities and no one can even approach this in their own strength or abilities for that would be self-righteousness, which is as filthy rags in God’s sight. No, we can do this only in our weakness and humility by and through the grace of God as we abide in Christ, become living sacrifices, and are continually being spirit-filled by submitting to others. Remember, Christ’s work is finished. It is complete and perfect. He has done all that is necessary to save His people. However, each believer must be sanctified in order that they become as perfected and completed as they can be this life. This requires discipline and God uses the fires of sanctification to bring it about.
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:7-11 (NASB)
The professing Christian who lacks this disciplining by God is illegitimate. They are not genuine believers. God’s discipline seems quite painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore, we must not lost heart in our weariness of the trouble seemingly never ending, but must run this race set before us with our eyes firmly fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ. We follow His example and we will come to the end prepared for eternity.
12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12:12-17 (NASB)
Do you see it my brethren? Perhaps you are walking in disappointment because you did not receive some honor you thought you deserved. Or perhaps you did not get that promotion at work that you thought you were qualified for. Or you did not receive the recognition for your work or talents that would elevate you in the eyes of the world. In any case, believers must not allow these things denied to them by the grace of God to bring them to dismay or weariness or despair. No, these are worldly things that could very easily cause us to be in love with the temporal rather than in running the race set before us, which must be done in self-denial. Our fulfillment must be in Christ alone or what we are pursuing is only another form of idolatry. Therefore, my brethren, do not grow weary running this race set before us by God Himself. In this we are being prepared for eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria!