Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 49

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

How Should We Then Live?

In this study, we have seen the greatness of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant--and we have sampled the accomplishments of the saints of old. Now What?

The Writer begins the answer to this question with this:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB 95)

Behind us are the Old Testament saints. They have inspiring testimonies based on an inferior covenant. They are living and, if the language is taken at face value, they are watching us. And, therefore, we must at least do what they have done in the past and "also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run the race." As they endured and overcame, so must we. They are watching and they are cheering us on.

The ancient men and women of faith fixed their eyes on promises and that kept them going. We have the very Son for God to fix on. What's more, He is the author and perfecter of faith. What greater things are we able to accomplish with this faith and with His Spirit that indwells and empowers us? When the path is hard, we have Jesus' example. There is a future state of joy to be achieved and a glory and a greatness. That is the end of the race--and that is why we can endure and suffer along with the Son of God.

If I were to generalize a concept from the passage, it would be this: Let's keep greatness before our eyes! We focus so much on failure. We fail and fall and then compound the situation by relishing in the failures of others so that our missteps are not so painful. We would do better to study greatness. To be sure, it will make small our accomplishments and draw serious attention to our shortcomings. On the other hand, it shows us what is possible. Looking at the faults of others is being the spiritual couch potato. Looking at the greatness in others is exercise. Seeing what the Holy Spirit can do in the lives of ordinary men and women is goal setting.

Test everything. Cling to what it is good.

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