9/1/19 Hebrews 12:1-17
The first two verses of this epic piece of Scripture seem to me to be some of the most practical in the whole book – in the whole Bible, not just Hebrews.
Referring to the host of faithful saints who have gone before us the writer urges us to:
“…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, 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.”
How is it so practical?
We all want to succeed. It is one of our most fundamental yearnings, the desire to succeed.
And in this case to succeed is to find approval with God. Can there be a more noble or satisfying goal in life? And in this context, to succeed is to win, because we are told we are in a race. And it tells us in a very straightforward way how to run this race so as to win, i.e. it tells us how to succeed. There are two simple things we need to do: One is to keep our head up and fix our eyes on Jesus. Two is to get rid of everything that weighs us down.
No one is more encouraging and consoling than Jesus Himself. Never take your eyes off Him. When we run with our heads down, we stumble because we don’t see what’s coming. Focus on Him and His view of you, not others’ view of you. Let Jesus define you. You don’t have to self-identify. He made you uniquely in His image and He has called you and gifted you for specific purposes. He who started a good work in you will complete it. Keep your eyes focused on Him.
And it’s no coincidence that long distance runners are some of the most bare-boned peeps on earth. There is no excess weight. This allows them to run faster, further and more faithfully.
They maximize what they have and use it to achieve the goal set before them. They wear skimpy light weight pieces of cloth as well. (I think the safety pins holding their race number in place weigh more than their clothing) In doing this they demonstrate a willingness to do whatever it takes to run faster and better. The practical application here is getting rid of any sin or encumbrance that would hold you back from accomplishing what God has called you to do. It may or may not be a sin, but it is something that’s weighing you down or entangling you. It is a distraction, which could be a person, place or thing. Something is occupying your time that is robbing you of fulfilling your calling. Someone is holding you back, filling your head with plans that do not align with what God has told you. And some place is where you find yourself landing everyday and there you’re wasting precious time.
There is a shame associated with sin, because the guilt of sin brings shame. Sin is shameful and we need to repent of it so we can move more freely. Jesus despised the shame when He took on our sin, but He took it on anyway. Instead of being told not to be ashamed of sin, maybe we need to feel the shame of it, admit it is what it is, and let it lead us to repentance and the life that comes from the forgiveness Jesus offers having endured the cross for us.
Yes, that Jesus - fix your eyes on Him, the author and perfecter of our faith.