- August 17, 2008
- By Gary Long, Willow Meadows Baptist Church, Houston
• Hebrews 12:1-15
Consistency is the key to success in many areas of life. Consistent work yields productivity. Consistent discipline in exercise yields a healthier body. Consistent savings leads to accumulation of wealth.
Most Christians could use more consistency in their relationship with God, so this week we are reading Hebrews 12:1-15 with an eye toward developing a consistent walk with God.
Consistency in our walk with God means we are the same person at work as at home, and the same person at home as at church. It is this kind of consistency and discipline that equips believers to “keep on keepin’ on” when life is difficult. Becoming a more consistent believer requires determined, disciplined effort. We will learn in this week’s lesson that this is achieved by removing the hindrances of sin, accepting discipline from God and putting our faith in action.
This lesson is designed to help you choose God’s best for your life by discovering steps you can take to be more consistent in your Christian walk; and determining to be more consistent in your Christian walk.
Remove hindrances (Hebrews 12:1-4)
Perhaps you’ve watched runners in races. They wear special shoes that reduce their weight and give maximum support. They wear loose fitting clothes to allow for comfortable movement, and are yet fitting enough to reduce wind resistance. A runner works to remove everything that would reduce her speed and hinder her race.
So it is with the Christian lifestyle. To walk consistently with God, we must remove all the hindrances in the “race.” Primarily, sin is the thing that holds us back most often. We need to lay aside anything that hinders our progress and keeps our focus off of Jesus, our supreme example.
We must apply discipline and effort to remove the sins causing problems. Begin by making an honest self-assessment. If laziness is keeping you down, get active. Set goals, make a plan, move forward. If alcohol is distracting you from accomplishing a closer walk with God, put it aside. If an obsession with sex is causing you to chase after the wrong things, refocus your life on following God and put these things second in your priority list.
Consider a time when you tried to lose weight and get in shape. When we first decide to diet or take better care of ourselves, we do pretty well. But a few days into it, we find we lack the consistency to follow through. But when we make a change for good in our lives, we need to look to the “large cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us and allow their legacy of faithfulness to encourage us when opposition is high, or consistency is elusive.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Practical ways of doing this include creating and keeping a special time for prayer and Scripture reading. It might also include finding someone who knows you well and discussing how they might keep you honest about who you are in all the areas of life. This creates accountability outside yourself and leads to a more consistent lifestyle. Ask your learners for more ideas about how to maintain consistency in their faith.
Accept discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11)
No one enjoys discipline. Correction can be embarrassing, even painful. When we receive discipline, we can feel ashamed or even angry. Hebrews suggests the difficulties of life are discipline from God, and the goal of God’s discipline is the possibility of holiness. It’s a worthy goal, but it can be a bitter pill to swallow.
We do well, however, if we can view discipline and correction from God as opportunities for growth in our holiness. You might ask your learners to reflect on a time from their own lives when they learned a hard but important lesson about life through difficulty or adversity. Ask them to identify how they grew as a result of the discpline/difficulty.
It’s also hard to keep perspective on why we are disciplined. It breaks my heart to have to punish my children, but I do so because I know correcting them is more loving than allowing them to continue down a path that leads to an unhappy life. When we move the perspective to God, it is easier to see that God’s correction and discipline in our lives are a sign God loves us and cares about our future.
Put faith into action (Hebrews 12:12-15)
This last section of Scripture is really about strength training and conditioning that will allow us to put our faith in action. The 2008 Olympics are going on at the time of this writing, and it is fascinating and inspiring to watch the athletes in prime physical conditioning. But they did not get that way over night. They didn’t even decide six months prior to enter the Olympics, but began conditioning and competing many years beforehand. Through their striving and practice they made it.
Believers are in a similar situation. “Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” says the text. Prepare for action in our faith, and work always to make our faith the defining mark of how we live our lives. We believers race together and have a mutual responsibility to support and encourage one another “... make level paths” says Hebrews 12:13.
The striving for spiritual health and holiness produces consistent Christian living, a lifestyle where our faith is put into action.