Pruned to Perfection
A newborn baby is such a wonderful example of the beauty of God’s creation. When a newborn is in the room, anyone present is awestruck by how small, cute, and innocent the infant is. At the same time, however, most everyone there is not immediately reminded that the newborn is in fact not innocent and that sin is part of the child’s nature.
Life is full of sin, so full of sin, in fact, we can sometimes forget that sin even exists. When this happens, even the strongest Christian is a victim to the curse that has been given to man until the return of Christ.
In light of our susceptibility to sin, Hebrews 12:1 serves as a comfort in times when we may become discouraged. In this text, the Christian is told, “Let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Comforting words indeed, encouraging the Christian to overcome sin and to run the race with endurance and discipline despite the opposition.
However, Hebrews 12:1 by itself is incomplete; it lacks direction and an ultimate goal. This direction comes in the following verse and is of ultimate importance to the Christian. Hebrews 12:2 reads: “… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Not only does this passage give the Christian direction, it also gives a perfect example of how to finish the race.
It is clear to every Christian that Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, ran the race with endurance and crossed the finish line, thereby saving His entire people. What may be less clear is the joy that Jesus experienced during His suffering. During Jesus’ last hours before the crucifixion, Jesus was sure to have stumbled walking up to Calvary, fully exhausted and almost unable to continue. However, no matter how many times Jesus may have stumbled, His eyes were never taken off the prize that awaited Him — the prize of redeeming His people.
Throughout the Christian life, sin is a constant stumbling block, making the likelihood of discouragement almost inevitable. However, if Hebrews 12:1–2 is reflected upon, Christians can always remember to be “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” much in the same way that Christ was looking to the Cross — with assurance that the victory is already won. Run the race with endurance, placing your confidence in the Christ who perseveres on your behalf.
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