- Hebrews 12:1-17
- Romans 12:21; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13
- Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5-7; Ephesians 4-6
- Matthew 7:1-6; 11:27-30; 18:15-20
- 1 Corinthians 5-6
Pursue Righteousness in Christ with Determination and Discipline.
A Fine Large Day…
My grandmother has a saying that when you have had a very productive day, “you had a fine large day.” Usually, this means that sleep and rest should come easy by the end of it. On the day I began writing this, I spend most of the day working to prepare the footings and other work to get ready for a new barn. According to my health monitor, I had logged over 30,000 steps and burned almost 6000 calories. I don’t know if that is completely accurate, but the passage in Hebrews 12 resonated at the end of the day. The soreness and weakness in my body made me acutely aware that I was ready for rest, but also pleased at what has been accomplished. I think it helped me to frame the plan that God sets forth in his Word to pursue righteousness in Christ with determination and discipline.
The Example in Jesus
Our effort to pursue righteousness must come by the work of Jesus Christ and his Spirit within us. He is much more than just a positive example, but he is also a positive example. It is by keeping our focus on Jesus and his life of service and suffering and his death to show us the need for us to pursue personal righteousness. The command not to grow weary occurs directly several times ins the New Testament. It compares to the commands in the Old Testament to not be afraid. Death was the great fear before Jesus’ resurrection. To those who believe and trust in the resurrection, one of our greatest impediments remains weariness.
The Adoption in Jesus
We are also told here in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament letters that we have come into God’s kingdom and are heirs, family members, because we are adopted in Jesus. We can expect to be treated as we would expect good fathers to treat their children. We can be expected to face difficulty because our Father wants us to be more mature and to know how much he loves us. When I make my children get out of the house and start working hard, they see it as punishment. It isn’t that I want to cause them discomfort, but I want them to be stronger. I want them to be stronger because I love them.
The Sabbath Rest in Jesus
The difficult work of doing good, pursuing righteousness in Christ, needs to be coupled with our time of Sabbath rest. This doesn’t just mean taking a break from doing good. No, the break also needs to be good. We need time to gather with the saints, our brothers and sisters in the church. We need to come together to hear their burdens and share our own. We need to be able to encourage one another with songs, with reading the word, and with trying to understand the word together. We do this to draw strength by the work of the Spirit.
The Correction in Jesus
Our churches don’t always get this right. We probably haven’t been getting it right in our church. One of the ways God intends to discipline his children is through the work of the local church. If we refuse to confront. Jesus gives us the plan for church discipline in Matthew 18. Paul gives a long lesson on discipline within the church in his first letter to the Corinthians. One of the key reasons for church discipline given in 1 Corinthians comes back into focus here in Hebrews; sexual immorality. This was such a major issue in the New Testament church, it seems strange that we modern, western Christians think this is a new problem. This remains one of those issues we try to avoid as a church because it rightly makes us uncomfortable.
The result of not facing the issues in our own church is that we lose credibility with our neighbors. This is true for the whole church and for individual members inside the church. I would also suggest that we don’t want to remove the plank from our eye so that we can help the brother or sister with the specks in their eyes. We like the plank in our eye. If we don’t first deal with our own sin, then we will feel unequipped to help point people away from sin and toward Christ. The correction of sin within the church is one of the requirements for a church to be healthy. If we don’t hold kill our sin and help brothers and sisters kill their sin, then we are failing to “be the church.”