I have been reading through the New Testament in the mornings, and I am in the book of Hebrews. I am not really doing an in-depth study, just reading. Sometimes though, I will go and grab my commentary and try to dig a little deeper when a particular verse grabs my attention.
Today is one of those days.
I was struck by Hebrews 12:1-2 which says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith......"
The first verse, 12:1, comes right after the famous Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11, where the writer basically gives us a run down of many Old Testament characters who persevered under various trials due to their strong faith in their God. This verse is not saying that all of those who have gone before us are up in heaven looking down on our lives, cheering us on. It means that they continually witness to us by their lives of faith and endurance and have set a high standard for us to duplicate.
That is comforting to me. There are so many days when I question myself, when I don't feel holy, when I don't feel forgiven, when I don't feel loved, when I know in my heart that I could have done so much better or given so much more....
When I look at those Old Testament characters, I am encouraged because they didn't live perfect lives either, and they didn't always get it right. They continued on with the race though, the race that starts at salvation. From the point that I asked Jesus to come into my heart until the day that I meet Him face to face, I am in a "race" that requires discipline and endurance. I have to continually strip away every single thing that weighs me down, things like my own negative thoughts, material possessions, the love of comfort, relationships, etc. These are things that may not be necessarily bad, but they certainly can take my eyes off of Jesus.
The big one is sin. The verse says that it can trip me up or entangle me. I must continually confess the sin that I am convicted of and keep my eyes on Jesus. The commentary said that the word sin could certainly refer to any particular thing, but on the heels of Chapter 11 of Hebrews, the hall of faith, sin here is probably in reference to not living by faith or the sin of unbelief. As a believer, I must have complete trust in the promises of God and complete confidence that the life of faith is sure to win. That takes daily Bible reading and prayer. That is the only way that I am going to keep my eyes on Jesus because every single day there are so many things trying to entangle me and weigh me down.
So today, I persevere, I endure, and I hold on to the one who so lovingly holds on to me. Thank you Lord for loving me, for choosing me, for encouraging me, and for never letting go.
*So Long Insecurity update....I chose not to answer the questions this week because I had a hard time making personal application. The chapters this past week were something about my relationship with men and the tendency to make them gods in my life, viewing them with complete omniscience or complete omnipotence or both, or the tendency to make them the devil in my life. I just didn't connect here, so I am on to the next two chapters.
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