Hebrews 12:1-8 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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, 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 you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
We all have probably both disciplined children in our lives and also been disciplined in our lives in our childhood. Discipline seems to be a very hard subject. We hate to discipline our children (for me it would be my nieces) but we KNOW it is very much a necessity and it will benefit them as they grow. We also need to discipline ourselves. It might be that we discipline ourselves with food intake, exercise, attitude, getting up on time, setting quality quiet time with God. Whatever it may be, it takes work and that is exactly what discipline is until we do it enough that it transforms from disciplining ourselves to becoming a habit of something we enjoy and even can't live without doing.
Our Heavenly Father disciplines us also because of His ever so deep love for us. God does not punish us but rather disciplines us with His love to ever so gently try to nudge us into the right direction. Discipline can be extremely painful but in the end it is also extremely good for us and also our relationship with Christ as we do grow during the disciplinary process. God disciplines HIS sons...if we are disciplined by God, we should consider it a blessing and evidence of His deep love for us. Please come with me as I share with you what the Holy Spirit showed me when I read these verses sometime ago and have kept the notes.
In verse 1 "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses." We are being watched by believers and more importantly unbelievers (all the time), thus we as Christians professing to be believers in Christ have to be careful of everything we do/say. "throw off everything that hinders and sin that so easily entangles." For ourselves, for our walk, for our witness, we must get rid of anything that hinders our testimony and it is very easy for our flesh to be entangled in sin...thus we must always guard ourselves as in 1 Peter 5:8-9. "and run with perseverance the race marked out for us." We've been given a race, a challenge, and we must run not walk with great endurance and perseverance...not give up but run with confidence that God will aid us. I think it says run because if we walk we are more likely to be tackled by the devil and overcome with obstacles.
Verse 2 "let us fix our eyes on Jesus." Fix our eyes on Jesus...it can't be said any plainer. But "fix our eyes" ON Jesus....just speaks volumes. When we fix our eyes on something, we usually don't let go nor do we look at anything else but rather we will hold our eyes on Jesus. "who for the joy set before him endured the cross." For the joy...He ENDURED. Remember He asked God to remove this cup if possible. He didn't want to suffer the pain but He endured. Endured is such a strong word and it implies pain, sacrifice, and suffering but it also implies a sustaining power through and past the pain. Again, notice it said "for the joy". He knew there was great blessing and joy in His suffering and enduring the cross. He looked beyond the cross and the pain and could see the "joy". I believe enduring is always followed by a blessing from God. When He sees we've endured for Him (because He endured much greater for us), He blesses that.
Verse 3 "consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." We need to continually get the focus off ourselves and onto Him. "Consider HIM"...consider what He did for us and realize what little we can do will never repay that. If He can endure the cross for us, can we not endure whatever He calls us to in this life? Is He not worthy enough? "So that"...we consider what He did so that we can endure what He's laid before us and we will not grow weary and lose heart. Wow. When we look and consider what He did, doesn't it make it so much easier to endure and not lose heart, not give up but to trust in Him and trust He knows what He's doing and then we can endure for Christ's sake.
Verse 4 "In your struggle against sin, you have not struggled to the point of shedding your blood." Now that puts it in perspective. Whatever struggle we endure because of our own sin (or just because), we still have not suffered as much as Jesus. What a struggle His flesh must've suffered....not wanting to endure the cross but He did because it's what His Father wanted. Can we say the same? How many times do we suffer because we know it's the Father's desires? Are we now? Are we truly putting His desires above our wants or are we saying "Father, IF it be they will."?
Verse 7 "Endure hardships as discipline." Hardships are all a matter of perspective. We can be upset, angry, selfish, and bitter about having to go through them or we can simply endure and see it as what it is...discipline. And the purpose of discipline is?...to make us grow to be more like Christ...to pluck out our weeds and to grow our seeds. (Ha...I rhymed and didn't realize it...don't use that phrase as I'm going to get it copyrighted. haha)
Verse 8 "If you are not disciplined then...you are true sons." So the trials, hardships, and discipline are because He does love us and He wants to see the fruit and good in discipline. These are signs of His love for us and that we are children of His because He disciplines all His children. If we are not feeling His discipline, then are we really HIS?
Be Blessed in Him,