It’s been so long since I administered a standardized test to a first grader that I had almost forgotten the most crucial skill being assessed is a little boy’s ability to sit still for twenty to thirty minutes at a time while attending to academic material. Even with frequent and very stimulating breaks–butterfly catching, one hundred pushes on a swing, a walk up Windy Hill–my grandson was visibly exhausted by the time we finished. But he did finish, and he finished well.
In the striving that characterizes my spiritual formation, I am frequently on par with that distractable and wiggling-in-my-seat first grade child. Maybe I can resist temptation’s first wave, but, to be honest, I am likely to tap out in the second round. After all, the old confess-and-repent routine is so easy, so available. Do I really need to ride the bucking bronco of temptation to its mastery?
The old confess-and-repent routine is so easy, so available. Do I really need to ride the bucking bronco of temptation to its mastery? (Hint: See Hebrews 12:4)Tweet
The writer of Hebrews was addressing a cadre of battered first-century believers somewhere in Palestine or the surrounding region. (Scholars differ.) With the prospect of intensified persecution in the wind, and the memory of Stephen’s and James’s (and so many others’) martyrdom fresh in his mind, the author jolts his readers with this rallying cry:
You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin…”Hebrews 12:4
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, that’s an understatement!”
In my own case it certainly is. Could a careful observer detect even an iota of “striving against sin” in my following life? (Certainly, there’s no bloodshed here!) Or have I become so accustomed to presuming upon the grace of God that I skim over the surface of my days barely aware of the lapses and the losses for God’s kingdom?
How Can We Pass the Daily Endurance Test?
Sobering thought, but as I watched my grandson persevere in saying “no” to himself, I was challenged and chastened by my own flabby resistance to the enemy of my soul. With so much at stake, then, what’s the mindset present in a following life characterized by fervent “striving against sin?”
Hebrews 12 points us toward Christ:
…let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith… For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”Hebrews 12:1-3
When the siren song of temptation is all you can hear, consider Jesus.
When angry words rise up in your throat against unjust treatment (or simple annoyance), consider Jesus.
When the day has become too long and you are considering checking out, numbing out, flaking out on your commitment to righteousness and sober living, instead consider Jesus.
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.”Tweet
But he did…
So that YOU could.
May the grace of Jesus Christ be with you,
I have written an article that will be featured in the Fall print edition of The Joyful Life Magazine. Order here for a treat for yourself or for a friend!
On the Third Thursday of every month, I send biblical encouragement and newsy insights to newsletter subscribers. You can sign up using the handy (and only slightly annoying) pop-up form or simply click here to subscribe.
And as always, you can also subscribe to Living Our Days blog to get regular content delivered to your inbox twice a week. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page. If you’re encouraged by what you read here, be sure to spread the word!
What I’m Reading Now
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.