Tithes and Offerings
We are Spiritual Marathoners
Hebrews 12:12-15 (Pastor Heo)
“12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Warning Against Refusing God
14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
We are in Hebrews. Chp 12 starts as we studied a few weeks ago. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders…Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”
“Let us run the race…”
We can say that the Christian life in this world is like a spiritual marathon. Do you know about marathons? We know about physical marathons. They are 42.195km. This is a LONG distance. We know how difficult it is to finish this full course well. So, since we know how difficult it is to finish well, when they do finish well, they are filled with a big smile.
Like this, when we finish this race set before us well, we also will be very happy and satisfied.
2 Tim “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, and there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, that the Lord will award to me and to all who have longed for his second appearance.”
Remember, the Christian life is a marathon. God bless us to finish the race well.
“12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
God is our coach, pushing us beyond our limits.
Yet, difficult times should not cause us to fear, but we are not to be satisfied with only self-survival in mind. We must be good to others to follow Christ very well. We must run tough and hard, very well. We must not choose the easy way for ourselves, but make an easier way for others to believe in Christ – by becoming good examples.
As we know, in every Christian community and society, there are some who are weaker, likely to go astray and abandon the struggle. So it is up to us to put fresh vigor into weak arms and fresh strength into failing feet.
One of life’s greatest privileges is to become an encourager to one who is in despair and a strengthener of one whose strength is failing.
As Christians, we have double-duty – before God and before man. Make your way straight in the sight of men, and God, then we will find favor before God and men. We must have a pure heart before God and an upright life before man. We are long-distance runners in this world.
So, let us run rough and tough together.
1 Peter 2:21 “To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in his steps.”
If we want to become a good example for others, we need discipline, and suffering. We must run hard and run together as co-marathoners in this world.
“Make every effort [do your best] to live in peace with all men [even your enemies] and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
This means, without holiness we cannot be saved. Let us run rough and tough and run after peace and holiness. In our marathon, all the time, we must run after peace and holiness.
Peace is not negative in the Bible – it is intensely positive. God bless us with his peace.
Peace = everything that is made for man’s highest good and happiness (i.e. to be found in obedience to God), also right relationships between God and man, and man and man. Hatred is no more and each person pursues his neighbor’s good.
We must pursue peace with all people in this world. We must have peaceful relationships with our unbelieving relatives and neighbors, our enemies, and people in the church.
Yet, in this imperfect world, we know it is impossible for all men to live together in peace – but we must DO OUR BEST.
- Romans “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.”
- Romans 14 “Let us do all we can to bring peace and mutual edification.”
- Romans 5 “Therefore, we have been justified, so we have peace with God.”
How is this possible? Only through Christ.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons and daughters of God.”
2 Cor “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come.” If you memorize this, you must also memorize the next verse. 18 “All this is from God who reconciled himself to us and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
This means we have been given the ministry of reconciliation – to reconcile people to God and reconcile with other men. We are to be kind, thoughtful, considerate, to help others, pray for others, even for our enemies – even those who hate us.
But the best way to make peace between God and man and man and man: To preach the gospel – the “good news of great joy for all the people.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.”
Jesus is the author of our peace and the source of our peace. That’s why long ago, before he came, it was prophesied, “He will be called Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah) and in Eph “He himself is our peace.” Only real peace can be found in Jesus Christ.
We must be holy. What is the meaning? It is literally: different and separated.
- “Holiness” applied to God = his moral perfection and the fact that he is totally separated from all humanity and all creation.
- “Holiness” applied to us = set apart, consecrated, set aside for a purpose.
Remember, the world’s standards are not our standards.
Romans 12 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Our actions, thoughts, concerns, purpose. Our final goal is different.
“Without holiness, no one can see God” because sin always blocks our vision of God. If we want to see God, we must renounce sin and obey God.
Important: We are made holy once for all by the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are perceived as holy by what Jesus has done for us on the cross and we are called “saints” which means “holy ones.”
But in a practical way, “holiness” means “honoring God in how we treat others” – neighbors, husband, wife, spouse, employees, children, parents, co-workers, and how we run our business, how we behave at work, etc. Holiness causes us to behave differently from unbelievers.
Yes, we must do our best to live at peace with everyone, but at the same time, we must be different (set apart) from the world.
1 John 3:2 “Yes, dear friends, we are now children of God. If we are, though what we will be has not been made know now, yet when he appears we shall be made like him and we shall see him as he really is.” This is the fulfillment of holiness when we finish our marathon course.
This is why we run after peace and holiness.
Finally, we need his grace. Without it, we cannot finish this race well. His grace is essential for us to continue our race and finish very well.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
We must run in the grace of God.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God” means that it is possible to miss it. Remember, the grace of God does not fail, but we can fail to depend on his grace. The grace of God brings us the opportunity / chance to make our lives what they are meant to be. But we can miss that chance because of our sin, ignorance, laziness, procrastination, and pride. So, against that, we must be on watch in spiritual visions.
Romans 5:20 “Where sin increased, the grace of God increased all the more.” What does this mean? We should not misunderstand this sentence. It does not mean that we should sin more to experience more grace, rather it means that the more we realize HOW MUCH we need his grace, the more we realize HOW GREAT his grace is.
- “It is by grace that you are saved by faith. It is not of yourselves, but is the gift of God so that no one can boast.”
- Romans 5:2 “Through Jesus Christ, we have gained access into this grace in which we now stand.”
- James 4:6 “God gives us more grace, greater grace, but he rejects the proud, but gives more grace to the humble.”
For our daily needs, there is daily grace. For sudden needs, there is sudden grace. For overwhelming needs, there is overwhelming grace. His grace is always available to us.
“Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Remember, his grace is always very near us, but we must be spiritually vigilant to appreciate and enjoy this grace.
Yes, the Christian life is like a marathon. So let us run hard, but let us also run together. Let us run toward peace and holiness. And let us run focusing our eyes on Jesus Christ – only he is the author and perfecter of our faith and he is the final goal of our faith.
God bless you with his peace, holiness, and grace.