Summary: The writer of Hebrews wants his readers to understand that there are some factors for finishing well, first he some things we must do and secondly he tells some things we must not do or avoid, if we want to finish well.
A Study of Hebrews
“Jesus Is Better”
Sermon # 24
“The Do’s and Don’t For Finishing Well”
The consuming passion of the Apostle Paul beyond that of reaching his fellow Jews with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ was the desire to finish well. He understood that it was not only possible but a great danger that having started well, not to finishing well. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that he feared that after having “…preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Paul is not talking about a fear of missing heaven but a fear of finishing badly!
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews also understood this and Hebrew’s chapter twelve is primarily instruction about running the race. You will remember that verse one contained that admonition, “… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….” Verse two instructs us to remember to keep our focus on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Verse four through eleven spoke of the God’s training program. Now in verses fourteen through seventeen the author’s desire is that each Christian finish well.
Every runner understands that there is a point in every race when the runner reaches the point that he believes that he cannot run one step more. For many of us that is about thirty seconds after we start, but even the true marathon runner experiences this phenomena that they refer to as “hitting the wall.” “The Wall” evades easy definition, but to borrow from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous definition of obscenity, you know it when you see it - or rather, hit it. Any athlete who has experienced this extreme muscle fatigue knows that it can make crossing the finish line a difficult - if not seemly impossible - goal to achieve.
The writer of Hebrews wants his readers to understand that there are some factors for finishing well, first he some things we must do and secondly he tells some things we must not do or avoid, if we want to finish well.
The Do’s For Finishing Well. (vv. 12-14)
First, Do Strengthen The Weary (v. 12)
“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”
The word translated “strengthen” or literally “lift up” (anorthosate) is a plural imperative and implies a joint effort by many. When I read this verse I immediately thought of the incident recorded in Exodus 17:10-12. The Israelites are doing battle with Amalek, and as long as Moses lifted his hands the Israelites were winning, but when he became weary and let his arms fall down the enemy won. A man name Hur saw the situation and immediate took action. He could have given a report that the leader was failing to do his job and because of this Israel was losing. But what he did was he became a team player. Hur made steady the hands of the man of God in an unsteady situation.
There is really no room in the church for a “Lone Ranger Mentality.” We were never intended to have to live out our lives of faith alone. The letter to the Hebrews is full of the idea of helping each other to make it. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (3:13)
The Apostle Paul was himself struggling with discouragement in 2 Corinthians 7:6. I want to read to you from the translation called “The Message.” Paul says, “Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus.” I want to you to notice that God’s encouragement for Paul came in the form a person, Titus. In next verse (2 Cor 7:7) we read of the affect, “We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!” We all understand the need to receive affirmation and encouragement. Yet, it is also something we must do!
When we practice the ministry of encouragement, our words need not be polished or flowery, it is better if it is from the heart. A note of encouragement does not even have be lengthy, just a brief note on small card. The most important thing is that we ask God who needs our encouragement and then take the time to do it!
Do Strengthen The Weary and also…
Second, Do Straighten Your Path (v. 13)
“…and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.”
Commentator John McArthur says of this verse, “And make straight the path for your feet refers to staying in your own lane in the race. When you get out of your lane, you not only disqualify yourself but often interfere with other runners.” [John MacArthur. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews. (Chicago: Moody, 1983) p. 402]