|INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDIES|
LESSON FOR AUGUST 24, 1997
Renew Your Commitment
KEY VERSE: “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.” —Hebrews 12:1
SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12:1-11
AFTER RECOUNTING THE faithful testing of Old Testament faith heroes in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, Paul exhorts us in the 12th chapter to renew our commitment to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The picture presented is that of an arena with the loyal heroes of faith of chapter 11 as onlookers as we of the Gospel Age run the race for the prize of the high calling. This is not to imply that these onlookers are alive. The Scriptures clearly say, “These all died in faith.” (Heb. 11:13) Their example and accomplishments in faith live on, and are encouraging to us as we run this race.
Jesus, our forerunner, has finished the race and is set down “on the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2) As our coach and trainer for this race, we are to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2) We are to “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Heb. 12:3) By noting how Jesus conducted himself as he underwent opposition from the world, we receive valuable information on how to conduct ourselves in similar situations, as we strive against sin. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Heb. 7:26), but we are not. We are burdened with the imperfections of our flesh, which can be discouraging. We are encouraged in renewing our commitment to “lay aside every weight [hindrance], and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1) so that we can run the race unhindered. Striving against sin is a difficult task. For the Christian, it is part of the learning process.
The apostle then uses another illustration to impress upon our minds the need for difficult experiences in order to achieve our goal. It is that of the disciplining of a son by his father. He says, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.”—Heb. 12:5
The difficult experiences permitted by the Lord are not intended to discourage us, but, rather, are to be viewed as necessary corrections to our character. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” (vs. 6) If God did not love us as his sons, he would not be interested in correcting us.
The apostle uses the illustration of an earthly parent who may have chastened us for his “own pleasure,” whereas God’s chastenings are so that we might be “partakers of his holiness.” (Heb. 12:9,10) It is for our good that we recognize our fleshly failings and make corrections. Included in our renewed commitment is this recognition of our fleshly failings and a determination to overcome them.
Both of these illustrations—that of the racecourse, and of parental chastening—are intended to help us to continually renew our commitment to God to the very end. We are to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1), and to endure discipline which is “of grief; yet afterwards it returns the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”—Heb. 12:11, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott
By so doing we will gain the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.