How should we do whatever it is we do in life? The answer, of course, is as if we are doing it for Jesus Himself because we are–whether or not we have parents or supervisors, we are ultimately accountable to Him for how we live our lives. Beyond this, however, how can we do it succesfully? No, not what education or training do we need to get, but how can we persevere in our Christian walk successfully–especially, when we experience such temptation daily?
“So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [so many others who have trusted God for salvation successfully], let us, too, put aside every impediment — that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement — and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us, looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua [Jesus Christ] — who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Yes, think about him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you won’t grow tired or become despondent. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in the contest against sin.” (Messianic Jews (Heb) 12:1-4 CJB)
Several years ago, the phrase WWJD–“What would Jesus do?” became popular, and even though it isn’t as big today, it was a good thing to consider. The way to keep obeying Jesus no matter how hard it becomes, as a matter of fact, is to do as Jesus Himself–and many other faithful people of God throughout the millennia–did: look to the end result of that obedience: “In exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, [Jesus] endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame.”
Several verses earlier in chapter eleven we read that, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26) In verse thirty-five we learn that, “…Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35) Those whose hope is in Christ “confess…that they…[are] strangers and pilgrims on the earth…But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Many times we are guilty of not seeing with “eternity eyes”–we become too enmeshed in the affairs of this life that we fail to spend enough time getting closer to Jesus by reading His Word and praying, by feeding our spirits and that which is eternal, rather than our fleshly desires which are temporal. We are at risk of becoming like the seeds that fell on thorny ground in Jesus’ parable–“Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22)
I readily see this in myself. In the evening after we’ve finished dinner, I have a choice–I can vegetate and watch Netflix, or I can read the Bible or work on a devotion (or even pray!). Many times I excuse myself saying I am tired and wouldn’t be able to focus, that I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything worthwhile, but the truth is that some of my best devotions have been written at night–even on nights I initially felt I was too tired to be productive. All it takes is my obedience–choosing the spiritual over the fleshly, Jesus over whatever it is I “feel ” like doing at that moment. The Bible explains it like this:
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. ” (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV) We have to consciously choose to fellowship with Jesus. And it is typically my “flesh” that makes the decision to stay away from Jesus, and staying away from Jesus causes my “eternity vision” to diminish. All of life is composed of the various individual parts of it, yet they all weave into a cohesive whole–and fellowship with Jesus and the Father is the one thread that must be woven throughout it. And why is this?
The reason we must spend time on the eternal is because doing so strengthens our ability to see the end result of our faithfulness. And it is the seeing of that end result that helps us persevere–when we are tempted to not give in, when we are persecuted to not relent or deny Jesus.
Our Savior looked ahead and saw not just the suffering immediately before Him, but also the fullness of the outcome of His obedient death on the cross. We, too, must learn to see the eternal outcome of our faithfulness. We cannot, of course, completely comprehend everything, but as we come closer and closer to Jesus, it is as if His Holy Spirit lifts the veil that covers our eyes so we begin to understand better and better:
“But as it is written in the Scriptures: “No one has ever seen this, and no one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” But God has shown us these things through the Spirit. The Spirit searches out all things, even the deep secrets of God. Who knows the thoughts that another person has? Only a person’s spirit that lives within him knows his thoughts. It is the same with God. No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we did not receive the spirit of the world, but we received the Spirit that is from God so that we can know all that God has given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-12 NCV)
So, how can we walk the Christian life successfully? How can we persevere faithful to Jesus until the end? It is by keeping our eyes on the end result–“in exchange for obtaining the joy set before” us, we can endure!
Help us better see “the joy set before” us, that we may persevere faithful to You until the end! Amen.