We must patiently endure to obtain the promise!
“…that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. …And so after he (Abraham) had patiently endured he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6: 12 & 15
Throughout the Bible we are encouraged and exhorted to love God and to love one another. We are told also to even love our enemies and those who are difficult to love. We are told to be merciful, in the same way that God is merciful to us. We are encouraged to be strong, and to not grow weary in this love, but to be steadfast and continue walking in love, accompanied by good deeds.
The writer of Hebrews uses the analogy of running a race and suggests that we should run with perseverance:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12: 1
I see a clear, overarching message in the Bible that the people of God need to push through, continue on, and endure to the end. That we are not to give up, or to waver in our persistence, but rather, we are to increase our efforts and become stronger and stronger, rather than to slow down or to allow our efforts to wane.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
“But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3: 13
Sadly, we humans have a strong tendency to be impatient, and we allow ourselves to be easily distracted and misguided to other interests that take away from what should be the main focus of walking in love.
We live in a world where success is measured by what is accomplished, and where quick results are expected in whatever we do. Rarely are we encouraged to be a patient and persistent worker who quietly performs what is needed over the long haul without the need for recognition or fanfare. Rather, when results aren’t seen after a short while, we quickly abandon our efforts and move on to the next thing.
To patiently endure is boring! There is no excitement in concentrating on doing what is right and good, day in and day out. We would rather see tangible results and accomplishments. We would rather see miracles or revivals. We would rather see big buildings built or large sums of money gathered. We would rather experience the excitement of charismatic speakers or emotional services where prophecies occur and the Spirit is moving powerfully. All of these things could be good when in their proper place, but they should not be our main focus, and they should not distract us from our persistence in walking in love with the goal of receiving what God has promised.
The writer of Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus as an example of endurance. So not only are we being told to focus on our efforts to patiently endure, but we are told to use Jesus as an example of this endurance. Have you ever seriously looked at Jesus as an example of endurance? Maybe you have looked to Jesus as an example of compassion or of a miracle worker, but most likely not as someone who has endured patiently to reach a goal. Here’s what the Scripture says:
“…looking unto Jesus, the author (originator) and finisher (perfecter) of your faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12: 2-3
We can see from these verses that Jesus has defined our faith by His endurance, showing us how we should act. Following His example, we should focus on what God has promised, in the same way that Jesus focused on the joy set before Him. For Him it was the future glory of being seated at the right hand of God. We have been promised to share in His glory, to have a resurrected body, to meet Him in the sky and to be with Him in Heaven; this hope should be set before us as we endure what we must in this life.
There is also an indication in these verses that we should be prepared to suffer, as Jesus did, specifically in our struggles against sin and our flesh. We know that it is a constant battle to put down the flesh and to resist temptation or to be purged of sin in our life. We need to be strong and continue in our battle, even to the point of shedding blood, if it should come to that.
“You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12: 4
Also, it is the discipline of our loving Father that will cause us to suffer as we are being chastened, and this we must also endure with patience until we have been trained by it.
“Now no chastening (or discipline) 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.” Hebrews 12: 11
Life can be difficult at times, and painful, but this is all part of running the race. We need to keep in the race and press on towards the prize, understanding that it will be well worth it in the end. The pain and suffering in our lives has a purpose, and it is for our good.
“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.” 1 Corinthians 9: 24 – 25
I have heard it said that if you are not moving forward then you are going backwards, there is no such thing as standing still when running this race. I agree with this, and this is why we need to press on and not take a break. We need to be strengthened so that we can be completely healed, or if not, the weak areas will be damaged and made worse.
“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12: 12-13
We are temporary residents here, just passing through to reach our true and eternal home in heaven. This journey is not an easy one, as we must endure many hardships along the way. We can find strength by looking at the reward that awaits us, and by looking to Jesus as an example of how the endurance and persistence will pay off in the end.
Let us continue in strength, encouraging one another to press on in this race towards the promised reward that awaits us. We will be in His presence sooner than we think.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind.” Philippians 3: 13-15