A paraphrase of Hebrews 12:1-4:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance [unnecessary weight] and that sin which so readily [deftly and cleverly] clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus . . .
He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Just think of him who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against himself [in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood.
Discipline is a theme in Hebrews 12 – a word we rarely like to talk about, especially discipline that comes from God. Does it really happen? Is our loving, grace-filled Papa one who disciplines? If he is loving and kind, yes, he does. Free of God’s discipline we can become an entitled and desperate people, seeking out gratification of our sinful desires.
I was reminded this year that compromise is a dangerous game. It is a sin that clings to and entangles us, which begins to make room for more sin until disillusionment sets in and blinds us to the truth.
We can be so spiritually lazy. (I am preaching to the choir here!) I have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have I yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out my own blood. Have you? Would you hate sin so much in your life that you would cry out in anguish? Would you wrestle with it with great intensity? Or would you compromise? A little bit here, bending the rules there? This isn’t an easy passage of Scripture to read without doing some self-reflection and asking the Lord to examine my life. I realize that I am far from perfect, a work in progress, and it humbles me. It keeps me desperately clinging to the cross, exclaiming to the Lord, “Jesus, help me to not fall away from your precepts, your glorious ways, which are so much better than mine!”
Further in Hebrews 12 we are reminded of Esau selling his birthright, his inheritance, for a meal. He compromises for something he desired. He had a desire that grew into something so great that he would sell his birthright for it. What a devastating choice.
I sold my birthright! Almost 20 years ago, I decided to give birth to my own desires. The compromises started small, but they began to grow bigger. I began to believe culture’s voice over God’s; I began to believe that God’s grace was enough and that he accepted me as a sexually active gay man. These compromises took root and I began to water them and it pulled me away from a loving community. I believed that the people there were just homophobic and unloving and that they had failed me.
When I returned to the Lord, much like the prodigal son, I was extended unmerited favour and mercy. God surrounded me with an amazing community of believers, a crowd of witnesses, the glorious ones to whom is all my delight! (Psalm 16) These men and women, young and old, are here to encourage and keep me on the path of life. I need them and they need me.
Brothers and sisters, we need God’s discipline and we need each other. When we see loved ones bite the apple of compromise, we will feel sorrow and grief, but I pray that it won’t callous our hearts toward them; rather, that we would continue to cry out in love, encouraging them to stand firm in faith the race set before them.
You just read something for free.
But it didn’t appear out of thin air. Writers, editors and designers at Christian Courier worked behind the scenes to bring hope-filled, faith-based journalism to you.
As an independent publication, we simply cannot produce award-winning, Christ-centred material without support from readers like you. And we are truly grateful for any amount you can give!
CC is a registered charity, which is good news for you! Every contribution ($10+) is tax-deductible.