Sports are an analogy for life in many ways. Play hard and keep your eye on the ball.
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Hebrews 12 (ESV)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us also lay aside
and sin which clings so closely,
and let us
run with endurance
the race that is set before us,
2 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.
3 Consider him
who endured from sinners such hostility against himself,
so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your struggle against sin
you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord
disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure.
God is treating you as sons.
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8 If you are left without discipline,
in which all have participated,
then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9 Besides this,
we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.
Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them,
but he disciplines us
for our good,
that we may share his holiness.
11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant,
but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who have been trained by it.
lift your drooping hands
and strengthen your weak knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet,
so that what is lame
may not be put out of joint
but rather be healed.
for peace with everyone,
and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
15 See to it
that no one fails to obtain the grace of God;
that no “root of bitterness”
springs up and causes trouble,
and by it many become defiled;
16 that no one is
or unholy like Esau,
who sold his birthright for a single meal.
17 For you know that afterward,
when he desired to inherit the blessing,
he was rejected,
for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.
18 For you have not come
to what may be touched,
a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest
19 and the sound of a trumpet
and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.
20 For they could not endure the order that was given,
“If even a beast touches the mountain,
it shall be stoned.”
21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
22 But you have come
to Mount Zion
and to the city
of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God,
the judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
24 and to Jesus,
the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.
For if they did not escape
when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape
if we reject him who warns from heaven.
26 At that time his voice shook the earth,
but now he has promised,
“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth
but also the heavens.”
27 This phrase, “Yet once more,”
indicates the removal of things that are shaken—
that is, things that have been made—
in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore let us be grateful
for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,
and thus let us offer to God
with reverence and awe,
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews 12 Summary
Hebrews 12 is a passage designed to strengthen and encourage you in your Christian life, much in the same way the energy of cheering fans can give athletes the added boost they need to win a close game.
Get rid of what's holding you back;
Keep your head up, even as you endure discipline to kill off sin that remains in you;
Strive to know God's grace yourself and be sure everyone around you experiences it as well;
Know that you're being brought into a kingdom that far exceeds what we experience here and now;
Remember who God is, and worship Him accordingly with reverence and awe.
Pictures of elite athletes in action often have one thing in common regardless of the sport: their eyes are laser focused on whatever it takes to accomplish the goal, despite whatever else is going on around them.
But you are striving towards a goal that can not be touched or even seen as you press on to the city of the living God (v18 & 22). This means that your eyes must be fixed on something different than the ordinary prizes that the people of this world see. In fact, the things that fascinate worldly people are nothing but weights holding you back.
Live your life like a champion. Throw off everything of this world that's slowing you down. Focus all of your energy on the spiritual race set before you. And just like every other successful athlete, keep your eyes laser focused on the prize despite all of the distractions of life vying for your attention.
v2 - Fix your eyes on Jesus
v3 - consider Jesus (literally: talk about Him over and over, both in your mind and with others)
And remember, you're surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are on their feet and cheering you on.