“But what does God want me to DO?”
Ever ask that question? Yeah, me too.
We are now at the start of Hebrews 12. From here to the end of the book, the author gives specific details about the doing of a Christian’s life. And we’re prepared to fully understand what he recommends…because we have traveled with the author as he directed the orchestra of examples, warnings, and encouragement around the one central theme – the importance of our life choices now and how they affect our participation with Christ in the future.
We are ready to ask, “So what does this type of life look life? What are we supposed to DO?” Now that we have the context, the WHY behind the author’s direction to DO will make more sense than if we just plopped the Bible open to Hebrews 12 and began to read. Even better, knowing the context always makes the text easier to apply. So, let’s take a look:
All these [Old Testament heroes] were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us
The ancient heroes of the faith act as courtroom witnesses who testify that living for God now is worth the sacrifice. We can, by our actions now, participate in the fulfillment of what the ancients longer for. It is almost as if the author is asking:
If God sticks to His promises, why wouldn’t we want to avoid sin altogether…but also avoid anything that may hinder us in our pursuit of the life Jesus has laid out for us?
But that’s just hard, isn’t it?
Not only do we have to contend daily with the nagging desire to sin…there are a lot of things that clamor for our time, many ‘good’ things that can take up a lot of our day.
Social media, hobbies, app games on our phones, sports, TV shows, and movies can quickly take up our free time. Let’s be honest – we watch a ton of TV, and if we’re not watching TV then we’re probably on our phones. (Or maybe we’re doing both at the same time? Yep, I'm guilty of this, too.)
We start ‘relaxing’ and oh-so-easily slide into indulgence. Is it time to set a timer on our TV? Is it time to delete that app? (You know the one.) How can we use our hobbies to invest in others and contribute to God’s purposes, not just our own?
It’s a mental shift. It’s a purposeful decision. It is a constant, day-by-day choice, which is why the author says to do it, we must run with endurance. Endurance is only needed for hard things, but he says that it is worth it in the end. Even if I have to give up a ‘good’ thing now, in order to do the ‘best’ thing for eternity future.
But we’re not left hanging with a simplistic ‘you should do this’ statement, either. Not only does the author give us that WHAT to do, but the HOW to accomplish this lifestyle:
Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We end up where we look. Our focus determines our direction. We aren’t the first one to walk this path. With Jesus as our example to imitate, we know what success looks like. As we focus on Him – there is nothing that can deter us from our task, no earthly hindrance that will keep us from completing our race.
And as we are among those who complete this race, we will also participate with God when He fulfills the trust of the Old Testament heroes.
What an opportunity!