Not Growing Weary Hebrews 12.3-4
-Theme verse for 2012 with emphasis on endurance.
-Remain under, don’t quit; run the race designed by God for you; lay aside sins and preoccupations; look for the encouragements.
-Fatigue of the will caused by ongoing and growing hostility. Mental tiredness that does not want to go on.
-“Looking” from verse 2 is an intense single-focused concentration
-“Consider” in verse 3 means “to consider by weighing or comparing”.
-Compare their circumstances with the circumstances that Jesus went through to determine if they are putting in the effort required to endure.
-They are weary because they are underestimating the cost of endurance.
-Jesus taught to give our whole life to God. Matthew 10.28; Revelation 12.10-11
The Hostility of Sinners Against Us
-False religion, the attitudes ideas and attractions of the world.
-We underestimate the cost of standing against these things and experience will-fatigue when called to stand.
When we give ourselves completely to God we will not underestimate the cost of endurance and will endure to the end.
Not Growing Weary Hebrews 12.3-4 (read 1-4)
Our theme verse for 2012 is “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus”. The emphasis in this verse is on the word endurance. Literally the verse says, “through endurance let us run the contest set before us”.
Endurance means “to remain under”. When we encounter the trials and struggles of life and the pressures of following Christ come upon us, and we are tempted to veer off course and even to quit the faith, endurance continues to stand and to trust God in worship and obedience and service. Endurance does not quit. It does not look for relief by abandoning its commitment to Christ. Endurance is an expression of our faith in God. Under all circumstances you must determine to walk with God, no matter what is trying to turn you in another direction.
Each of us has a course that God has designed for us to run. We are not to look over at our neighbor’s course and complain how easy they have it. Through endurance we are to run the course that God has designed for each one of us.
Like billboards along the highway, God has placed encouragements along our course to help us endure. We have the example of past saints who through endurance ran the race of faith. We have the example of Jesus who himself endured the cross that God had set before him. And we have the great promise of future joy in the presence of God for those who endure to the end. God has given us great encouragements to endurance as we run the course. And we have the fact that Jesus began the work of faith in our lives and promises to complete it (Philippians 1.6).
Endurance to run the course requires that we lay aside the sins that so easily trip us up. Endurance to run the course requires that we lay aside the preoccupations that weigh us down and get us sidetracked. Endurance to run the course requires that we accept the shame which comes with identifying with Jesus.
Through endurance we are to run the course that God has set before each one of us, and the course that God has set before us as a fellowship of believers.
As we come to verses 3 and 4 the writer is concerned that those he is writing to will grow weary and faint in their souls in their endurance in running the course that God has set before them. Weary means fatigue. I think in this verse the fatigue is more a fatigue of the will caused by encountering ongoing and growing hostility because of the Gospel. It is a mental tiredness that does not want to go on because the battle never seems to come to an end.
Those who first read this letter were believers that had come out of the Jewish religion and who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. They were being severally persecuted for this belief and in their weariness were in danger of returning to the Jewish religion and giving up their new faith in Christ. The author wants to encourage them to keep moving forward.
To counteract the possibility of weariness and a fainthearted soul the author commands them to consider Jesus who endured great hostility from sinners. You might remember that in our study of verse 2 that the Greek word used for “looking” in “looking to Jesus” means an intense single-focused-concentration. In these verses the author not only encourages an intense-single-focused-concentration on Jesus but encourages them to compare their present circumstances and choices with what Jesus endured and chose to do. They are to consider the intense hostility of sinners against Jesus, hostility so intense that it ended in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
The Greek word translated “consider” means “to consider by weighing or comparing”. Here the author is asking the readers to compare their circumstances with the circumstances that Jesus went through and to determine if they are putting in the effort required to endure.
Now listen carefully. What the author is telling these persecuted believers is that they need to look at the hostilities that Jesus went through at the hands of sinners and then to look at their own circumstances and realize that they have a lot more to endure in the course that God has for them to run. They are not to get fatigued in their will because new hostilities keep coming upon them. Rather they are to expect to lose their very lives in enduring in the face of these hostilities.
It is not the hostilities against them that will make them weary and fainthearted but not realizing what endurance will require from them. If these believers do not realize what endurance will cost them, they will become weary and fainthearted when their endurance faces hostilities they did not expect, but if they know that their endurance will cost their very lives then they will not grow weary and fainthearted when they face greater hostilities at the hands of sinners.
The danger to the Hebrews was in underestimating the cost of endurance in facing hostility from sinners. The result of underestimating the cost of endurance would be fatigue of the will and a fainthearted soul. In expecting even the possibility of death they could endure anything that came against them.
Jesus taught the same principle to us. Jesus promised that those who stand for righteousness in this sinful world will be persecuted. Jesus also said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10.28). In other words they were not fear man or the Devil but fear God and boldly stand for God in this world. We are told in the book of Revelation, “that the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12.10-11).
When you as a Christian decide to offer your whole life to God you are allowing God to let whatever He chooses to touch your life. That includes trials, suffering, loss, persecution and even death. You may find some burdens heavy to carry but understanding that your life belongs to God to do as He pleases with it, will prevent fatigue of the will, and the heart from fainting, because you have not underestimated the cost of endurance.
How do these verses apply to us at today? We encounter few direct hostilities from sinners in Welland. Our endurance is not measured by overcoming persecution and open attacks. What is our struggle against sin which requires giving up our lives in order to finish the race?
For us the hostility of sinners comes in the form of false religion that attacks the authority of the Bible and makes true Christians feel like idiots and people who have no contact with the real world. The hostility of sinners comes from the attitudes, ideas and attractions of this sinful world. This hostility against believing Christians is not as obvious as open persecution and far more subtle and dangerous.
Like the Hebrews we too are in danger of becoming weary and fainthearted because we underestimate the cost of endurance against false religion and the evil world we live in. The cost of endurance for us is the cost of living out Biblical truth that speaks up against false religion, and rejects the attitudes, ideas, attractions and heroes of the world. We truly underestimate how much the world has a hold of our Christian minds and lifestyles. We say the right Christian words but our wills and actions are under the influence of this world. When we hear the call to live in line with the truth of the Bible, our wills experience fatigue and we become fainthearted because we have underestimated the effort required to not be conformed to this world and to be transformed into the image of Christ in attitude and ideas and actions.
If we determined to offer our whole life to God and determined to live according to what the Bible teaches, then our wills would be energized and our hearts revived. We would know that the cost of following Jesus is great and we would be willing to endure that cost. The trouble is that we underestimate the effort required to not conform to this world and to be transformed into the image of Christ.
The writer to the Hebrews was saying to his readers that following Christ would require their very lives, but in giving their very lives to Christ they would endure to the end. The same appeal is made to us today. In fully giving our lives to Christ and not underestimating the cost of following Christ, we will endure to the end.