Day 27: Brace yourself
A LoveSingapore 40.Day prayer and fast devotional, following 2020's theme of In the Long Run – A Journey Through the Book of Hebrews.
LoveSingapore // July 27, 2020, 12:01 am
Bible reading for 40.DAY 2020 | July 27: Hebrews 12:3-4
There is no weariness like soul-weariness. Some ancient runners were known to have collapsed from exhaustion on crossing the finish line. But the Hebrews are running out of breath before they even see the goal. This weariness is in the heart more than in the limb (JRR Tolkien).
The Preacher does not downplay the suffering of his listeners. He affirms them for having endured persecution in the past (Hebrews 10:33-34). But now he urges them to put their pain in perspective. Again, as in Hebrews 12:2, he points them to Jesus: Consider him who endured such hostility against himself.
In other words, focus on Jesus, get a grip on yourself, and stop whining. You are fighting the same battle that Jesus and the martyrs fought — the good fight of faith. If they endured to the end, so can you.
Our struggle is not against sinners. But against sin. Weariness of soul and compromise with sin can rob us of the victory that Jesus has won for us.
Our struggle is not against sinners. But against sin (Hebrews 12:4). The greatest threat facing any church or believer is not the enemy without, but the evil within. The gates of hell will not prevail. But weariness of soul and compromise with sin can rob us of the victory that Jesus has won for us.
Consider Jesus. He was like an unarmed man against an army of gladiators. See the blood streaming down his face. See his flayed back, his pierced hands and feet, his bleeding side. And we complain! A little bloodshed might do us good. The boxer who sees his own blood, and does not let his spirits be cast down, enters the ring with greater confidence and hope (Seneca).
In verse 4, the Preacher shifts his metaphor from running to boxing: You have not yet shed your blood in your battle with sin. Ancient boxing was armed and bloody. It was the most dangerous of all Roman games. But our contest with sin is more dangerous. However, we have this one incredible advantage: God fights for us. Provided we also fight. The fear of God compels us to fight against evil; and when we fight against evil, the grace of God destroys it (St Mark the Ascetic).
Consider Jesus. You have not yet resisted sin unto death as he did. Your blood has been spared for the time being. But brace yourselves. The Singapore Church may yet produce a train of martyrs of whom the world is not worthy.
• Get real. Disciples of Jesus sometimes grow weary in soul. We can even grow weary in prayer and doing good (Luke 18:1, Galatians 6:9). Are you battling soul fatigue? Whatever the cause, do not downplay your emotions. Turn to Jesus. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
• Get a grip on yourself. The virus of cancel culture is coming for Christianity. When you’re weary, feeling small, when tears are in your eyes, when tempted to give up, put your pain in perspective. Consider Jesus. Contemplate the extreme humiliation and pain he suffered in comparison to our light momentary afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Nobody suffered as unjustly as Christ. The only perfect Man who ever lived was misunderstood by listeners, maligned by enemies, forsaken by family, betrayed by friends, abandoned by disciples, tortured by law enforcers, and executed by politicians. The only One in history with every right to lodge a complaint remained silent. The only Man who could have called on God to judge his enemies quietly endured undeserved judgment (Charles Swindoll). Today, rest your case with God. Find courage in Christ alone.
• Get it right. The Church’s greatest threat is not the enemy without, but the evil within. What are some internal threats facing the Singapore Church? A senior leader gave his take: Idolatry. A double love makes for a double life (2 Kings 17:15,33). Dysfunctional leadership. A poor inner life and a warped view of success make for drivenness and manipulation (1 Samuel 15). Complacency. A lack of desperation and sense of urgency make for slothfulness even during this worst crisis of the century. Discipleship deficit. A lack of conviction to intentionally disciple others because many have not been discipled themselves. Christians are not self-feeding, not maturing, not multiplying. Biblical illiteracy and shallow theology. A lack of interest and intake of Truth leads to speculation, superficiality, and superstition.
Pray. Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). Love the Church on knees. Turn insight into intercession.
• Get fierce. Get in the good fight. Without the joy of battle, we find our thrill in other things. Without the fire of God’s Word in our bones, we cast off restraint. Without the fear of God, we entertain sin instead of fighting it.
Pray. Cry out desperately to God for a revival of the fear of God in our hearts. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13). What evil are you facing today? What are some subtle, dangerous sins you have tolerated for too long? Unthankfulness? Pride? Judgmentalism? Selfishness? Slothfulness? Anxiety? Take up your weapons and fight like a gladiator. Uproot the sin. Fight to the end. What evil are we facing in our city? War against demonic inroads and liberal traps on all fronts. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even to the point of death (Revelation 12:11).