Summary: The clock is ticking! Limited time! Limited days! What would you do if you knew that your time was about to be up?Description: It is personal. Sometimes it is guarded and sometimes it is shared. Everyone has one. Real people have real stories! Are you telling yours?
William Wallace, John Wayne, The Nature Boy Rick Flair, Wonder Woman, Harriet Tubman, Superman, the soldiers we remember on this Memorial Day who ran towards danger instead of away. All bigger than life heroes that grace our screens or history books.
The writer of Hebrews takes time to talk about and point out heroes. The Bible scholars in the crowd will know that an entire chapter (11) is given to recognizing and celebrating heroes of the faith. Otherworldly people like Abraham, Samson, Gideon and more. No super powers but super faith. So, these men and women have subsequently filled the lessons of Sunday School classes and sanctuary sermons.
However, then in Hebrews 12, this same writer shifts his attention from these icons and throws the hero challenge at our feet. He says it like this . . .
Text: Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.
I am glad the writer addresses us because if we are not careful we tend to overlook the everyday heroes because our attention is drawn to the super hero with cool powers and even cooler costumes. That is why today is so important because I believe that it is essential to take time to stop and realize that our real story would have been filled with a lot more pain, panic and pitfalls if it wasn’t for an every day hero who stepped in and maybe didn’t save THE day but certainly saved our day.
The writer of Hebrews presents us with three things that are necessary when thinking about heroes.
1. Heroes have habits.
I know we currently fill the the runner role in the account but don’t we all want to be heroes? Deep down inside of us we all have this desire to be the white knight, the valiant warrior, the John McCane - the unlikely one who faces down overwhelming odds - yippee ki yay - and we rally to victory. But then reality hits and our story tends to get the best of us and we timidly go into the night. So, how do you get on the list?
Heroes are made by habits! If you go back and examine the list in Hebrews 11 or if you think about the everyday heroes around you they all have habits.
I think Jesus may boil down the habits of heroes by saying that hero status is a matter of sacrifice. In John 15:13, He says, “No greater love has any man than the man that lays down his life for his friend.”
I know we think about laying life down as dying but what if we thought of it like this . . . They lay their life down . . . They set their desires and dreams aside to make our dreams a reality.
Here is another way to look at this . . . The Heroes of Hebrews and our heroes habitually lay their life down by . . .
Standing up when others set down.
Speaking up when others shut up.
Walking in when others walk out.
They are present when others are absent.
Seeing and believing the best when others see and believe the worst.
Heroes habitually do these things and in doing so they lay down their life to give someone else a chance, a shot, and a hope.
Here is the bottom line!
Heroes set the pace (they show us how to run) and show the path! They become heroes because they run the race! They are heroes because they show us where to run!
2. Heroes practice hand offs!
Heroes run but they also take their place in the stands so that others can run. Not only do they set pace and show path they also clear the path. They remove obstacles that would stop others from running. They make it possible for us to run. They run their race and then they hand us the baton so that we can run faster and further than they did.
If we aren’t careful, then we miss this. The Hebrews writer says that since we are surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses (heroes) this should cause us to run. But then he says that due to their example we should run a certain way. He says we should lay aside the sin that entangles us. Following their example, we should run clean so that others can follow our example.