Summary: Spiritual Olympian, with a ’go for the goal’ mindset, respect God’s discipline.

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Title: Olympians Respect God’s Discipline

Text: Hebrews 12:5-11

The Big Idea: Spiritual Olympians, with a “go for the goal” mindset, respect God’s discipline.

Series: Spiritual Olympians: Going for the Goal, is based on Hebrews 12:1-13 and designed to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, August 8 – 24 and beyond. It is a series developed from Go for the Goal: Become a Spiritual Champion, Mainstay Ministries.


The 400 Meter is called a “dash” race. The 400 Meter is, in my estimation, the most grueling of races. Clyde Hart, Head Track and Field Coach at Baylor University says the 400 Meter “incorporates the speed of the sprinter and the endurance of the half miler.” The Olympian who runs the 400 Meter race has to train so as to be able to maintain superior speed over a longer distance. A sprinter dashes down the track in the 100 Meter… the 400 Meter runner maintains the 100 meter dash effort for 400 meters. It is an extremely gutsy race.

“The 400 meters is an oxygen-deficient event… proper training will help the athlete learn to deal with the stress that they will face toward the end of the 400 meter run. We know that severe exercising imposes great stress on the body, and it must learn to adapt to this stress or it will break down. We also know that when the body is gradually put under stress, it will do whatever is necessary for its own well being to adjust to this new environment. When an organism is conditioned to the stress of athletic competition, it will be able to perform in that environment when called upon.” (Clyde Hart, Head Track and Field Coach, Baylor University)

Let’s watch Sanya Richards’ body is able to adjust to the extreme stress of the race she has prepared for.

Play YouTube Video of Sanya Richards

Because of copy right laws, we could not show you the film clip from the 2008 Olympics where we saw the outcome of the rigors and discipline of that kind of training when the USA Women’s 4X400 Meter Relay team ran in Beijing. Perhaps you saw it when Sanya Richards received the baton to anchor the final leg of the race, she was well behind the Russian runner who continued to lead for the next 300 meters. Then down the final stretch Richards closed the gap and won the Gold Medal for the US Team… an incredible demonstration of speed and endurance that can happen only when one has submitted to the rigors of athletic discipline or training.

The text begins with the thought that what we are about to unpack is intended to be of encouragement to us.

1. Spiritual Olympians do not make light of God’s discipline.

Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? “My son, do not make light of (ignore) the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart (be discouraged) when he rebukes (corrects) you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son (his children).” 12:5-6

The first thing necessary is that we understand what the term discipline means. The text refers to both discipline and punishment… we commonly think of discipline as the execution of punishment. Certainly, chastisement or punishment is a part of discipline… but the primary understanding of this text is not that of a God who whips or beats us when we do bad things.

The concept of discipline has its roots in the image of training children. Discipline is about instructing, correcting, training, nurturing, and encouraging the child so that he or she grows up to be a good person who is equipped for life.

It is the same concept expressed in II Timothy 3:16-17, only it is applied to all adults believers as well, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.”

a. Do not ignore discipline.

The first word of encouragement regarding the discipline in our lives is that we are not to ignore it. When we are experiencing challenging circumstances that are of the process of developing our character and Christ likeness… the last thing we want to do is treat the experience lightly, disregard it, or think it unimportant. We are to view our experiences as meaningful and important in our spiritual development. Failure to pay attention to our circumstances is to belittle the significance of what God is doing.

Illustration: Every parent who has ever raised a child knows what it feels like when a child does not listen when he or she is being admonished or instructed. This text is God’s way of placing himself directly in front of us, placing his hand under our chins, lifting the our faces until there is direct eye contact, and then saying, “This is important. Look at me and listen to me.”

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