TUESDAY, JUNE 12
SCRIPTURE: HEBREWS 12
This chapter begins with the familiar word “therefore”. In Biblical literature, particularly New Testament writing, the word “therefore” always connects what has been said to what is about to be said. Often the word “therefore” says, “Based upon what you just heard, this is what you should do”. That is a good way to view the use of the word “therefore” in this chapter.
We just finished the great Hall of Faith in chapter 11. We were reminded of some of the great Bible characters as well as some whose names have been lost over time. Based upon all of that, here’s what we should do.
The first verse points to our being surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses”. Based upon what I just wrote, this great cloud of witnesses has to be a reference to the folks in chapter 11. But what does it mean that they are “witnesses”? There are actually a couple of different ways we can look at this.
To begin with this may be a reference to the fact that those Old Testament characters were witnesses of the impact of the great faith God gave to so many. This would be similar to us being witnesses of the great salvation God makes available through Jesus. In other words, they saw great things. On the other hand, this could be a reference to the possibility that all those folks in heaven are watching what is happening on this earth and are witnesses of what is occurring. In other words, they are witnessing what we are doing.
To make this a little more complicated, we also have to ask who is witnessing who. Are we watching them – thinking about them and the great things God did through them – as an encouragement to us to run harder in this race of faith we are in? Or… are they watching us and encouraging us to run harder in this race of faith that we are in?
At the end of the day, both of these views are probably correct. We should remember their example, their sacrifice, their endurance. But we should also consider the possibility that they are cheering us on in our own life of faith.
Regardless we are to unload anything that keeps us from running this race of faith and we should run with endurance. The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. We have to endure for the long haul.
One of the ways we can endure is looking to Jesus. We have to keep our eyes on Him who stands at our finish line. It is Jesus who made saving faith possible and available. And it is Jesus who will perfect or complete our faith when we step or fall across the finish line.
In the meantime, we should do two things. One, we should run with endurance. Two, we should expect God to discipline us or correct us so that we can run better, further, and faster. Indeed His discipline is for our own good. And His discipline is proof that we belong to Him.
Although none of us enjoy being disciplined, let us be mature enough to receive it well from the One who loves us the most. What He does to us He does for us. His help may hurt a bit but it is always for our sake that He does this. And it is always better in the long run (no pun intended).