Hebrews 12:1 “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.”
My wife and I go to the gym to exercise because we need it to maintain health and our immune systems to battle sickness, disease, etc. Along with that we need to eat right, and what is true for the physical body is no different for the spiritual aspect of our lives. To be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might we must exercise.
First, we are told that we are to run with patience. This means ‘patient endurance’ and we see that this is one of the secrets of the Christian life. In the New Testament, the idea of spiritual exercise comes out. In Ephesians we are told to be strong in the Lord and to stand. In Hebrews we are told to run with patience. In Jude it brings out that we are to build ourselves up in the most holy faith. What we find is that instead of doing nothing the Christian life ought to be filled with activity, stamina and a life of exertion.
We see that the author of Hebrews is telling Hebrew Christians and us as well what to do during ‘their evil day.’ The Hebrews were having great trouble and about ready to give up like many are today. We find that the author of Hebrews does not mince words, but gives a very stern warning. He is not patting them on the back and giving them a sentimental message, but instead reminds them that in the world they will have persecution. Part of being strong in the Lord is to understand this.
The author of Hebrews reminds them and us that we are to pay careful attention to what we have heard lest we drift. Many of God’s people are drifting, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is easy to drift with the current of the time instead of going against the flow with the Lord’s instructions. We see in Hosea how the Israelites went to Egypt (the world) for help and found out that their calling from God became a mockery because Egypt could not deliver them, and this is true of the world as well when it comes to our faith and calling in Christ. We are to look forward to the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. What we have now is a shadow of the reality that is to come.
In chapter 5 of Hebrews we see what the problem was with the Hebrew Christians which is also the problem with many today. They were babies and needed milk. In Hebrews 5:11 we read that they were ‘dull’ in hearing. The word ‘dull’ means sluggish, lazy or even stupid.
Dakes commentary brings out: “Milk-feeding was a metaphor used by many writers, both sacred and profane, to express the first principles of religion and science. They applied sucking to learning; infant to every beginner; and meat to those who had learned the first principles of truth.”
We need to learn to exercise our senses regarding the Word of God. So often we try to live on a verse here and there and it does not work. We need to dig in, read and study it. We need to meditate on what we read and when we do not fully understand we can go to the Holy Spirit and ask for wisdom and He will lead us into all truth. Look at the great saints of old in Hebrews 11 and how they spent time with God in prayer and in the meditation of the Word.
We concentrate on evangelism and that is good, but the way to evangelize is to build up one another (the church). We are told in Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” The word stir is the same word used in Acts 15:39 where Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp” disagreement over John Mark. The word for “stir” is a strong word. It would be like getting a kick in the pants to get going. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. You have a ‘blessed hope,’ you have angels encamped around you, you have the Word of God and the help of the Holy Spirit, etc. This seems to be what the author of the Hebrews is telling the Hebrew Christians and I believe telling us as well.
So what are we to do? Hebrews 12:2 “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.” The word “looking” means to ‘consider.’ So, to be “strong in the Lord and the power of His might” we consider Jesus. He is our example. This is why the reading of the four gospels is so important.