Have you ever been tempted to give up on your faith? Maybe during a tough week, you’ve considered your circumstances and thought, “None of this is working to my benefit. It’s time to forget about Christianity and live as others live.” In those moments, it’s easy to look around and see our unbelieving friends, family, and coworkers living differently and more easily and seemingly having a great time. Envious glances allow doubt and disillusionment to creep in and steal our resolve to stay on the straight and narrow path.
This was the experience of the psalmist Asaph. He “had almost stumbled” because he “was envious of the arrogant when [he] saw the prosperity of the wicked” who were “always at ease” (Psalm 73:2-3, 12). This, it appears, was also the experience of the Christians to whom the writer of Hebrews addressed himself. They had “not yet” had to shed blood in order to stand firm in the faith (Hebrews 12:4), but it was clear that the struggle against sin within and the struggle to withstand opposition from without were taking their toll.
What should they do? Consider Jesus. The biblical antidote to faintheartedness and weariness is to fix our eyes on Him who endured hostility—who endured the cross—in order to obtain the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).
At some point in our lives, all of us will face unjust suffering in words, deeds, or circumstances—and we can admit that we don’t want to take the dig in the ribs and the spikes in the shins. All of us will face the reality that we have not yet defeated the sins that we have struggled with for years and years. All of us will face days when we don’t want to be in the race, when we are tempted to give up and drop out. What should you do on those days? Hear God’s word saying, Consider Him. Consider the life of Christ: what it was like and where it led. He opened the door to glory; now we walk the path behind Him. Look at Jesus, who ran this race and is now “seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Day by day, no matter whether the course runs uphill or the wind feels full against us, we consider Him and “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (v 1).
3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God2 and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,3 blameless. 7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Straining Toward the Goal
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
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