Tuesday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-17 (NKJV)
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, 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. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
As we look at the lives of the Old Testament saints we read about yesterday, we probably think or say, “I could never stand up to what they faced” and “I could never follow their example.” And, unfortunately, throughout the Holy Scriptures we see many reports of people who did not follow their example. However, our reading for today encourages us to take inspiration from these great witnesses of faith. Only by looking to Jesus, the beginner and completer of faith, can anyone hope to emulate them.
When we look at the political turmoil in the world, we are fearful. When we look at the social turmoil in the world, we are fearful. When we look at the financial turmoil, we are fearful. When we look at the threat of bad weather, or the threat of illness, or wherever else we may look, we become fearful. So what are we to do?
Our reading tells us we are looking in the wrong place. It says, “Looking unto Jesus, let us run with endurance the race set before us.” In our baptism Christ has given us all the faith we need to live our lives in this world and endure to the end. But we need always to look to Him and His Word for the faith, the strength, and the ability to face whatever may come. When we look at ourselves, at our preparations for disaster, at our financial stability, at our efforts to remain healthy, we are looking at nothing of any permanence or ability to see us through.
When we keep our eyes looking unto Jesus, Who gave us faith, Who sustains faith, and Who strengthens faith, then, and only then, can we remain faithful.
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word. Amen.