One more illustration: in Hebrews 12:12-13 the writer says, “Strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 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.” He is talking in images here of their spiritual condition: weak hands, feeble knees, crooked paths.
Laying Aside Every Encumbrance
That’s the condition of the church. That is the background of Hebrews 12:1b, “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.” This command does not come out of the blue. This is the point of the whole book. Endure, persevere, run, fight, be alert, be strengthened, don’t drift, don’t neglect, don’t be sluggish, don’t take your eternal security for granted. Fight the fight of faith on the basis of Christ’s spectacular death and resurrection. And show your faith the way the saints of Hebrews 11 did – not by coasting through life, but by counting reproach for Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt (11:26).
So the main point of this text is the one imperative: RUN! (12:1). Everything else supports this – explains it or gives motivation for it. Run the race set before you! Don’t stroll, don’t meander, don’t wander about aimlessly. Run as in a race with a finish line and with everything hanging on it.
To this end, verse 1 says, “lay aside every encumbrance, and sin which so easily entangles us.” I remember the effect this verse had on me as a boy when I heard someone explain that we must lay aside not only entangling sins, but “every encumbrance.” That is, every weight or obstacle. Things that in themselves may not be sins.
This was revolutionary. What it did (and I hope it does the same for you) was show me that the fight of faith – the race of the Christian life – is not fought well or run well by asking, “what’s wrong with this or that?” but by asking, “is it in the way of greater faith and greater love and greater purity and greater courage and greater humility and greater patience and greater self-control? Not ; Is it a sin? But: Does it help me run! Is it in the way?
As a boy I was mightily helped by having my very categories changed in the way I lived my life. I commend it to you young people especially. Don’t ask about your music, your movies, your parties, your habits: What’s wrong with it? Ask: Does it help me RUN the race!? Does it help me RUN – for Jesus?
Hebrews 12:1 is a command to look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes.
Posts Tagged ‘endurance’
Piper: look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes.Posted: September 22, 2011 by Pam Larson in Devotionals/Commentaries, Hebrews, September
Tags: Bible, Bible daily, Bible reading, Bible study, daily Bible, Dr. John Piper, endurance, faith, Hebrews, Piper: look at your life think hard about what you are doing and get ruthless about what stays and what goes., Running With the Witnesses, Scripture
Tags: Bible reading, Bible study, Bonhoeffer, daily Bible, Dr. John Piper, encouragement, endurance, Give and Receive the Word of God everyday!, perseverance, Scripture, sermon, Word of God
Some of you reading the Bible through this year may be struggling to keep up, wondering if it is worth it. (It IS!!) Some of you may be able to encourage others to keep going. (Please DO!!!) This Bible reading plan (see the link in the column to the right) is structured with a few days at the end of each month to catch up or review. Here’s John Piper, with a word of encouragement, “Helping Each Other Endure to the End”-
Then Bonhoeffer comes to a very solemn point that I want to emphasize this morning. He writes,
If somebody asks [a Christian], Where is your salvation, your righteousness? he can never point to himself. He points to the Word of God in Jesus Christ, which assures him of salvation and righteousness. He is as alert as possible to this Word. Because he daily hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he daily desires the redeeming Word . . .
But God has put this Word into the mouth of men in order that it may be communicated to other men. When one person is struck by the Word, he speaks it to others. God has willed that we should seek and find His living Word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of a man. Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain; his brother’s is sure. (Life Together, pp. 11-12)
The Means of Persevering to the End
Turn with me to Hebrews 3:12. I want to show you from Scripture how true and essential Bonhoeffer’s words are for us today at Bethlehem. The question to ask yourself as we read these verses is: How important is it to live with other Christians in such a way that I can give to them and receive from them the Word of God every day?
Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.