Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline —then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
The great examples of enduring faith in chapter eleven now find their practical application in chapter twelve. The message in chapter twelve is, “imitate their faith”. In this section, the life of faith is likened to two different things: an endurance race, and a father-son relationship. Both illustrations are given to point out the fact that endurance involves toil and pain. In the end, however, endurance has a great reward.
In the first three verses of this chapter, the writer points out that endurance is required to run a marathon. Here he refers to all the faith champions from chapter eleven as a “cloud of witnesses” looking on to see how we will do as we “run the race”. They have already successfully completed the race that was set before them.
The writer then points out that no athlete attempts to run a race with all sorts of weights attached to his body. He removes anything that might slow him down. As believers, we must examine everything in our lives, asking the question: Is this thing a weight or a wing? The end of verse one is the heart of the entire book of Hebrews. “Let us run with perseverance…” This faith race that God has set before us is an endurance race. Only those with patience and persistence will complete the race. These Hebrew readers were on the verge of dropping out of the race.
In verse two, the writer shares what it will take to finish the race. We must “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” Jesus is the supreme example of endurance. Jesus ran this race before us. We must keep our focus on the One who successfully completed the race. Like the great heroes mentioned in chapter eleven, we must endure the pain of the present in light of the promise of the future.
In verses 4-11, the writer likens this race to a father-son relationship. These Jewish believers had not gone nearly as far in their endurance as others had gone before them. They had endured other, milder forms of persecution at the outset. Throughout history, God has allowed certain difficulties to come upon His children. These trials are designed to prove, test and refine them. We are told that discipline is actually a healthy sign. It demonstrates that God cares for us, that He is refining us and that we are His legitimate children. In other words, the child of faith will bear up under the disciplining hand of God, that he/she might experience the holiness of God.
In verses 12-13, we see that endurance is also required for the sake of others. Notice that the writer does not place the burden of responsibility upon God, but upon them. He encourages them to strengthen and straighten their spiritual condition. We must make sure we are setting a healthy example of enduring faith for the sake of others, just as the heroes of the faith set an example for the generations to follow.
Questions to Ponder
What are the “hindrances” in your spiritual walk at this time? What actions must you take to “throw them off”? What sort of discipline has God brought into your life recently? How might your walk with Christ help (or hinder) another believer? How is your spiritual walk like a marathon? Like a father-son relationship?
- I praise You Lord for being long suffering, thank you for persevering and enduring the cross for the sake of love.
- Thank You Lord for Your faithfulness then and now, thank You for Your commitment to me and for fully understanding all things.
- Lord, reveal to me any resistance, self-relieance, independence, pride or unforgiveness. I’m sorry Lord for my sin, forgive me.
- Revealer of Truth, I ask that You would reveal to me the “hindrances” in my spiritual walk at this time.
- Help me and Your people Lord to submit to You and Your ways and to receive Your strength and power. We want to depend on You moment to moment.
I praise You as my Lord and God, as my All in All, as my Abba. I repent Lord of a lack of faith and being so easily distracted with the things I see rather than fixing my eyes on things above, where You are. Help me Lord to keep looking to You and crying out to You for our empowerment, help and strength. Keep us steady in our walk with You Oh God, growing in You and growing in love with each other. Lead us Lord, restore, revive and strengthen us. Lead us into Your great heart of mercy, grace, and love. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.