In the previous chapter, God spoke to us about faith and gave us examples of men and women who lived by faith. Chapter 12 begins with an exhortation to God’s children to follow these examples.
1. Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
This world witnesses the lives of God’s people. It is a great responsibility to live by faith because the way that we live can draw people to Christ or push them away from him. Living a life of faith is like a long-distance race in that it requires patience. Just as it would be foolish to be cumbered with weights while running a race, there are “weights” that cumber Christians also. These weights are not necessarily sinful in themselves but they encumber us spiritually and can hurt our testimony. And then there are sins – thoughts and actions that violate God’s law and can ruin our testimony. Both sins and weights are to be “laid aside” so that those who see us run the race will be drawn to Christ.
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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
4. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
Running a long distance race takes great endurance and the runner must have a strong motivation to do so. Christ endured that which was far beyond anything that we could imagine, and his willingness to do so because he loves us is the supreme motivation for the Christian.
5. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Chastening is cleansing. We could think of this in terms of the cleansing of a spiritual wound that will get worse if it is not cleaned out. Sometimes this requires “spiritual surgery” of wounds that we don’t even know exist. This is a loving thing for our Father to do.
7. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8. But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
This is one mark of true salvation. A man will chasten his own son but not someone else’s son. Some things in the Christian life must be endured.
9. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10. For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Sometimes earthly parents are motivated to chasten their children because it brings them some personal benefit, but God does so for our benefit.
11. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Chastening can be painful but it is necessary and ultimately it brings peace.
12. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13. And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
We naturally try to avoid chastening and we can even become bitter at God for bringing it into our lives. But we can’t experience many of his blessings without it, neither can we be used effectively in his service. When we endure chastening we experience spiritual healing and then we can also experience the blessing of being used by God to bless others.
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