Chapter 12: 1-2
“Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Our journey through the ‘Hall of Faith’ in Hebrews 11 was a long one, but a good one. We explored some of the most amazing men and women that we see in the scriptures. The thread that ties them together is their faith in God. Their trust in God and what He says He will do stayed alive in the midst of great pain, suffering, waiting, and in some of the hardest situations, yet they kept their faith in Jesus.
We all know of the life of Job and how he stayed faithful to God in the midst of great suffering. Most of us living in this time have not really suffered to the point of pain and/or imprisonment as far as the Gospel is concerned. Paul, who I think wrote this book, brings this great chapter to a sobering conclusion, and he (via the Holy Spirit) calls us to action. Please remember, there were no chapter breaks when these books were written. So, there was no break between chapters 11 and 12. Notice how the chapter begins with ‘Therefore’; this means that he is coming to a summary based on the information given to us before. So let us take a look at the things that Paul throws at us and challenges us to be and do.
- Be aware we are being watched, verse 1
I have been asked several times in my ministry if our loved ones who are dead are watching us. Now, I am not going to say that they all do, but at least these ones from Hebrews 11 are watching us. Paul says here we are ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses’; they are watching how we live out our faith as well. Now, it may be that all of the saved are watching how we live out our faith down here. That is a crazy thing to consider. They are aware of what is going on down here, and we are not lost in the crowd; they know who we are.
- So, how are we living out our faith?
- Are we all in like Abraham and Moses were?
- Have we given up on our own hopes and dreams for God’s hopes for us only?
- Are we enduring the trials of life like Job and crying out ‘though He slays me’?
- Are we constantly blaming God for the tests of life, or are we actively asking God to get the glory no matter what it costs us?
- One day, if the Lord tarries, you and I will be in the crowd watching; what would we hope to see in our brothers and sisters?
- What do the witnesses see in us right now?
- Lay Aside Weight and Sin, verse 1
We focus on sin a lot, but there are a lot of things that may not be sinful, but they are in the way of us serving the Lord with all of our love, strength, and soul. These are weights; they hold us down. It could be friends, careers, dreams, and a host of other things that stop us from being completely sold out to and for the Lord.
Sadly, many of us are still sinning more often than we should be, and the weakness of the flesh is a constant battle we have to fight. For some of us, it is not the sins of the body that betray us; it is the sins of the mind. The indifference to the loss around us, the lack of care for the hurting, both physical and mental. A hardness towards those that are less fortunate and a calloused view of life. We lack mercy and compassion. We hate to forgive anyone, and we keep a very accurate record of those that sin against us. We can recall the details on a whim.
The sins of the mind and the heart are way more corrosive in our lives than the sins of the flesh (this is not to condone either). Beloved, let us seek the best for and from the Lord. Let us humble ourselves and seek to love spiritually disciplined lives so that we can be very useful to the Lord for His work.
- Run with endurance, verse 1
The Christian life is more a marathon than a sprint. We are called to patient endurance and know that each race (each life) is individually set for us by God. Stop comparing your walk to others; each person has a ‘race,’ a life set before them by God. One that is designed to live up to God, glorify God, and help us to be more and more humble and more obedient. What works for me will not work for you, and vice-versa. You run your race, and I will pray for you; please pray for me as I run mine.
Anyone can have faith in God for a short time; many do. But to have it over decades of service, decades of trials and testing, and to have our faith grown over years of service not being noticed by anyone but God, can be difficult. Keep the faith, serve the Lord, and He will lift you up when the time is ready.
1 Peter 5:6, “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (NKJV).
- Look to Jesus, verse 2
Our only hope, our only strength, and our only comfort is in Jesus. He is the one who gives us the ability to get through the toughest of times. He knows our frailty, and He is there to help us. And help us He has promised…
Hebrews 4:14-16, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (NKJV).
Hold on to Jesus; He is on your side. Trust in Jesus; He will not leave you. Call on Jesus for help; He will hear and help. Trust Jesus; He cannot lie, and He is our eternal friend and strength. We can put off the weight, sin less, and endure life until Jesus comes for us.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
How to Connect with Us
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MississaugaMissionaryBaptistChurch
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com