Date: December 8, 2019 (Sunday PM)
Bible Text: Hebrews 12:1-2 | Steve Damron
This is part 2. Click here to see part 1.
"Let us" is found 13 times in the book of Hebrews
We are in a race.
We are not racing to Heaven.
Lay aside the weights, Hebrews 12:1
- Affairs of this life (sports, politics, education, etc.)
- Cares of this life
- Besetting sins
Let us run with patience, Hebrews 12:1
- A life of faith
- A life of fortitude
- A life of forbearance
Look unto Jesus, Hebrews 12:2
- The author of faith
- The finisher of faith
- The pattern of faith
- The goal of faith
How tedious and tasteless the hours
When Jesus no longer I see.
Sweet prospects, sweet birds, sweet flowers,
Have all lost their sweetness to me.
But when I am happy with Him,
December’s as pleasant as May!
Dear, Lord, if indeed I am thine
If Thou art my sun and my song;
Say, what do I languish and pine,
And why are my winters so long?
Oh, drive these dark clouds from my sky;
Thy soul cheering presence restore;
Or take me unto Thee on high,
Where winter and clouds are no more.
- John Newton
Learn to take your licks, Hebrews 12:5-11
A. Don’t murmur
B. Find God’s purpose
C. Gain instruction from it.
Lift up the brethren, Hebrews 12:12-14
A. Lift up – this indicates the effort that we should have in helping our fellow member.
B. Make straight – this indicates the healing process which should be sought after
C. Seek peace – this indicates the spirit in which we should pursue in helping.
D. Look out – this indicates the dedication that we should have in helping our fellow brother.
Look out for bitterness, Hebrews 12:15
A. The symptoms of bitterness
B. The problem of bitterness
C. The effect of bitterness.
D. The cure for bitterness
-Faith & forgiveness set us free
Let’s get some grace, Hebrews 12:18-29
A. Saving grace
B. Sustaining grace
C. Sanctifying grace
I take the Father to be my God; I take God the Son to be my Savior.
I take God the Spirit to be my Sanctifier; I take the Word of God to be my rule.
I take the people of God to be my people.
I do hereby dedicate and yield my whole self to the Lord and I do this deliberately, freely and forever, Amen. – Matthew Henry
Hebrews chapter 12 again, we will finish part two. Hebrews chapter 12 and we will do as we did this morning. We will read verse one and two together. I am there fast. I had it marked. All right, so Hebrews 12 one and two, let's read it together. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about was so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." This morning we looked at three of our seven reasons and we are considering 'The Seven Helps for the Race.'
We picked that from verse one where it says, "let us run with patience the race that is set before us." God has a race for us. And as we mentioned this morning, as we started out in consideration, it is a race. It is a race for a Christian, but it is not a race for us to get to heaven. This chapter is not indicating that we are supposed to work our way, our run our way to heaven. But in this life here on this earth, God has a race for us. And in this passage we find some helps because along the way, if you have been involved in any type of race, it is not going to be easy. There are going to be difficulties. There is going to be things that are hard. And so the Bible is indicating and helping us to understand that there are ways that Christ can help us to win the race.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would help us this evening as we finish up some concluding thoughts with the race that you have for us. I pray that you would help us. You would encourage us as Christians, not to be on the sideline, not to take a break, but Lord that we would be diligent to be at the race that you have for us. As always Lord do that which I cannot do and that is speak to hearts. We ask and claim your power in Jesus name. Amen.
Spurgeon once was talking about growth in Christians and in their life and he used the idea of parents. With the idea of parents he said that many times, and you may have done this, many times parents when their kids are two and three and four and five, every year they take a picture and you can see the growth of their life. You can see their changes in life and as they get older you can see a lot of differences, you can see wrinkles come on hair release, you can see expansion, you can see all kinds of different things as they get older. But what if we could, and this is what Spurgeon said, what if we could spiritually take pictures of ourselves year by year? He said, would there be any difference?
And sad to say, I think that many times there is not. And why is that? It is because we are not doing what God instructs us and that is to be at the race. We should be farther in our race than we were last year. And according to the Bible, and the Bible uses a lot of different ideas to help us to understand. We talked about that some this morning, the Bible uses the idea of, farmers. It uses the idea of that Christians are light, that they are a branch, and a soldier. But this idea that the author is presenting and it is presented also in 1 Corinthians 9 and it is also in 2 Timothy chapter two. And that is that we are running a race. We are an athlete. The idea is that we are supposed to be gaining ground in our spiritual life. We should be moving towards Christ in this life. I understand that in heaven I will have perfect sanctification, but here on this earth, and this is the problem today in America. The liberal Christian today says, Hey guess, what? I am under grace. I can do whatever I want. What they do not understand is a proper theological understanding of sanctification. Here on this earth I am supposed to be moving towards Christ--on this earth. God did not save me so that I can do whatever I feel like. He did not save me from sin. Sin did not put a Christ on the cross so that I can just ignore the penalty of sin and ignore the problem of sin. No Christ saved me so that I can resist sin and I can move more towards Christ here on this earth. And it is sad that many of us allow sin in our life and it hinders our race.
This morning we covered three of our seven and in verse one we saw two of them. It said, let us lay aside every weight. And by that it is telling us to lay aside weights and lay aside sin. The idea of weight in a verb or in the grammar or in I guess the definition of that word weight, it gives the idea of an encumbering an encumbrance. And so the idea is that it may not necessarily be sin, but it is hanging on us. And there are things many times in this life that as a Christian, it comes in. As I said this morning, the affairs of this life, the cares of this world, they come and they draw your attention away. You have a race, lay aside the weight. Then it also says, set aside that besetting sin. That besetting sin can be on your race, Satan gets your eyes off with something tantalizing and that is sin, he will use sin. So do not step, as we used the idea this morning of Pilgrim's Progress. Remember on his path, he stopped off on Bypass Meadow and it ended him up in the dungeon of Doubting Castle. Don't get off the path. Lay aside the weight.
Then secondly, we noticed in the end of verse one, "let us run with patience." Then in verse two we see the third thing "looking unto Jesus." These are all helps for us in running the race. Lay aside the weights. Let us run with patience. Look onto Jesus. Then we come to verse five and the text is verses 5-11 and I named this, learn to take your licks. And what do we mean by that? Verse five, "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children..." And this is a quote from Hebrews 12:5-7, "...My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you..." What? As somebody He hates? No, as a son. So learn to take your licks. One man in talking about this one commentator and I liked his thoughts on this. This is what he said. He said, it does not of course mean that He, talking about God, that God sends chastisement which is not deserved or that He sends it for the mere purpose of inflicting pain, or just for joy. Let me see. Can I burn him? Let me drop a big meter on him - ouch his skin melted. Wow. No, that is not our God. Our God does not send that for the mere purpose of inflicting pain. That cannot be, but it means that by His chastisement He shows us that He has a paternal care for us. He does not treat us with neglect or is unconcerned as a father often does with an illegitimate child. The very fact that He corrects us shows that He has towards us a father's feelings and exercises towards us, a paternal care. When chastisement comes, guess what you can say, Oh God cares for me. Learn to take your licks.
There are a couple of ideas that I think will help us in that area of learning to take our licks. One do not murmur. Do not complain. You know there are some times and that is kind of babish and this might show spiritually what you are. You know, I understand a three-year-old, I understand that. We were watching a little kid recently and normally when little kids come over, I have learned this, if they are bad, I have my wife spank because they are going to probably end up passing out if I do it. So, I happened to be studying or something and the little kid was doing something wrong and I came walking in and oh my word, you would have thought the world came to an end. Screaming? But that is the way some of us are, Oh I did not move. Yes you just did. You just were jumping around. But that is the way some of us do. Quit complaining! When you, and specifically, I am talking about when it is sin, when directly you sin and God comes and spanks you and then you turn around, why are you doing that? Stop complaining. Stop murmuring. Instead get on your knees, fall on your knees and say, God, I am sorry. Maybe that is our attitude. Learn to take your licks. Do not murmur.
Then secondly, find God's purpose. No, all chastening is not for sin. Study that in the Bible, all chastening is not for sin. In fact, one man and writing about that said this, he said, a chastening can be honorable. How many men have thought it dishonorable to be persecuted for righteousness sake? And so find God's purpose. In fact, in the text here, what is interesting is verse 11. Verse 11 says this, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness..." Now notice what it says "...unto them which are exercised thereby." The word 'chastening' has in it in the Greek there are some words that a lot of times are combined and chastening is one of those. It is used with exercise and another word is the gymnasium. Okay. So what it is trying to combine is saying, sometimes the chastening is like a strenuous exercise that God sends to you. And guess what strenuous exercise does sometimes? It stretches you. It makes you a little tired, you are not feeling really great. But afterwards, what is it doing? It is yielding a peaceable fruit of righteousness. Understand that sometimes there is a purpose. The purpose is God is saying, Hey, I want to stretch you a little bit. I want to make you a little bit tougher. So I am sending this into your life. Why? To make you weaker? No, because He loves me. He cares for me. Learn to take your licks.
Find God's purpose in the chastening. One man, this was many years ago, I think it was in the 80s. There was a man named Chet Bitterman and Chet Bitterman, graduated from a Bible college and he went to be a missionary to Columbia, South America on a translation team. Within a few months of starting his project, he was kidnapped by terrorists and seven weeks later he was shot to death. Before going to Columbia he wrote this in his diary. "Maybe this is just some kind of self inflicted martyr complex. But I find this recurring thought that perhaps God will call me to be martyred for him and his service. And then he said, I am willing." Isn't that interesting. God has a purpose. You say, what a wasted life. So how is it wasted? He is in heaven.
And I am looking at it right now, and I do not understand all God's ways and all God's reasons and all God's purposes, but this is what I know. He has a purpose. I can trust Him. I can trust what He does. Why? Because He is God that is why. He is a lot smarter than you and I, He is a lot brighter than you and I, He has a lot more knowledge of a lot of things, and He has more power. So if He wanted something done, if He wanted that bullet to miss, yes, it could have missed, but He didn't. So trust Him, learn to take your licks. What do we mean by that? Do not murmur. Do not complain. Then also find God's purpose.
And then lastly, when it comes to chastening, gain instruction from it. Did you see that in verse 10 and 11. It says, "For they verily for a few days..." and this is talking about our earthly fathers, he gives an earthly example. He says, here your earthly fathers, "For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure..." So see teenagers, you knew it , the Bible proves it. Your mom and dad like beating you right? That is a little twist. All right, but here it says for you, for their own pleasure, they are beating you. But guess what it says here, "...but he for our profit, (He only has you in mind. That is it.) that we might be partakers (Guess what?) of his holiness." Gain the instruction from the chastening. Gain the instruction from it. And what is that? "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward (What happens?) it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness..." When chastening comes do you come out of it holier, not holier than thou, but holier, more righteous. We are supposed to, because that is why God sent it. So when a trial comes, when trouble comes, what should we do? We go to God and say, all right, I have to learn to take my licks. It is not always, something I like, but God has a purpose. I am not going to complain and I am going to gain the instruction from it. That was number four.
Then we come down to verses 12 through 14 so, How do I stay at the race? Lay aside the weights. It says, let us run with patience. We look under Jesus. I learned to take my licks. Verse 12, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God..." You know what it is telling you to do, lift up the brethren. How do you stay at the race? Sometimes you need someone to come alongside you and help you out. Have you done that? You have got brothers and sisters here in the church. Do you look at them and say, you know what? I knew they were unrighteous, Lord, strike them. Make it hurt. Now I know that earthly brothers and sisters, you may enjoy that. You are like, Oh, do I hear it? Aw, that is sweetness. Sweet sound of beatings of another. All right, and you probably got issues. All right, you do need therapy. But guess what? As a fellow brother and Christian in our church, when you see somebody going through a tough time, it gives us four things you can do four ways.
First it says lift up. That indicates that it is going to take some effort on your part to come alongside them, if you are going to lift something. Now I understand some of you, as I am getting older. In fact, on the cruise boat it was funny, actually, it helped me out on the cruise because we were the young couples on the cruise. I have never seen so many decrepit people. And in fact, you know it has become popular to go to a workout room. So usually on a cruise I am always like, yeah, you know the workout rooms going to be empty. I am telling you, it was cracking me up. My wife was sneaking her phone and my phone and taking pictures because people would be trying to exercise. They had two canes, I mean two of them walking up to a machine and then they finally drop into the machine and then I think they died there. I am like, Hey, Hey, get off the machine. But guess what? Maybe those people are not lifting much. Usually lifting takes a little bit of effort, but that is what the Bible is telling you and I to do--lift up. That means it is going to take some effort on your part. When you see somebody hurting, make the effort, go lift up. Go lift up it says the hands which hang down, bear him up.
Then it says make straight. That idea of making straight indicates the healing process. Do you know making something straight takes time. I am learning that, those of you that have ever had something broken and it needs to be straightened, it could be a bone. It could be something that needs straightened out. Guess what it takes? Usually weeks, sometimes months, so when you are making the effort, understand also there is a healing process. It takes time. It is not going to happen overnight that all of a sudden they are feeling better. So lift up the brethren. And what do I do in that? Lift up. I make straight.
And then it says, seek peace. You notice it says, "Follow peace with all men..." This indicates the spirit in which we pursue the helping. I pursue it. Not trying to be antagonistic. There are some of you when you ae going to help somebody, you hurt them. You know why? Because of your attitude. You know what? I would help you, but unless you humbly bow before me and admit that I am awesome, all right ,then, not until then, will I try to reach down to thy lowly position and help thee. It says, guess what? Follow peace with all men. Try to come alongside with the right spirit.
Then it also tells us, in verse 15, look out. This indicates the dedication that we have in helping our fellow brother. We are looking diligently. You know why? Because Satan is always on the prowl and he is always there and he is trying to trip me up and he is trying to trip a fellow brother and sister in Christ up. And you know, I am sick and tired of him and I get tired of his wiles. I get tired of his darts, I get tired of his attacks. And guess what? If you have a little experience, come alongside and say, Hey, I am helping you man, I am helping you. I am going to come alongside. That should be what we do. That will help us together. Sometimes in the race it is nice to have somebody else to come alongside and run with. So what do we do? We lift up the brethren.
Number six in that passage in verse 15 it says, "Looking diligently" and then it kind of continues the thought. So we are looking out, but notice what it tells us in the race. "Lest, any root of (Guess what?) bitterness springing up..." And I think it is related to the passage just ahead of us. Because guess what chastening can do if you handle it wrong,--make you bitter. So if you are going to be faithful in the race, look out for bitterness because the race is going to be long. And also there is going to be chastening involved in this race. You just saw it in the passage. Look out for bitterness. I did a study on this because this semester for teaching, we were going through, we are actually done now, but teaching through on counseling and helps and different things like that. And so we did a case study, I can not remember if it was one class or two classes and we studied what bitterness can do through the Bible. There is bitterness, you can find bitterness all through the Bible. And I am not going to go through that because it was, like I said, it was either 45 minutes to an hour and a half that we went and I did a study on it.
But I want to just include a couple of things to help you as a church to understand that if you do not watch out for bitterness, it will destroy you. Because what it says here, it is an evil root. It is a wicked root. It is a "...root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled." So bitterness, look what it says, many be defiled, it affects. It just reaches out and all of a sudden you are affecting all kinds of other people in the race because you are bitter. Bitterness in the Bible you can find, basically, if you categorize it, it boils down to you can become bitter because of circumstances in life. And then you find that in the Bible people became bitter because of relationships in life. And sometimes in circumstances and sometimes relationships there is going to be some sour things. And if you are not careful, you will become bitter about either circumstances or relationships that are in your life. And usually bitterness starts as resentment. That is how it starts. There is a resentful attitude. And a lot of times that can happen towards authority. Sometimes it can happen towards a friend. It can happen, as I said, in circumstances. And then, basically that starts moving towards God. It starts as a resentment and if you do not deal with it, what it will do is it will breed and it will grow into bitterness. And bitterness affects a lot of things.
One thing bitterness affects is your health. Believe it or not, I have studied it and there was one doctor that said he believed that almost 90% of all illnesses were caused by anger, fear, resentment, and bitterness. Think about that 90%. One man in writing, a Christian man, wrote in a book called, 'None of These Diseases' says, the moment I start hating a man, I become his slave. I can not enjoy my work anymore because he controls my thoughts, my resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body and I become fatigued at only a few hours of work. The work I formerly enjoyed is now drudgery. Even vacation ceased to give me pleasure. I can not escape this tyrannical grasp on my mind. That is bitterness. It affects your health, it affects your mind, it affects your personality. And this is what is interesting about bitterness. The person that you are bitter towards, normally, you end up becoming like. If they are a nasty type person, you are like, you know what, it almost transforms you. I am not going to become anything like them. Oh, I think you did. All right. Because guess what happens? It affects your personality.
So what is the cure for bitterness? There are two things that come together. It is a pill, it is a big one. You have got to put these two things together. It is faith and forgiveness, that is the cure for bitterness. What is faith? Why do I say faith? Because if I am a Christian, everything that happens to me, circumstances and every person that comes into my life, God is in control and I will trust Him. That is faith. And then forgiveness. I was telling our class this when I was teaching on this, you know, there are some people that just say, you know what? You just need to forgive and forget! We love cliches, especially as independent Baptists. We like putting them on walls. And then you know, the wall phrase kind of just surrounds me and gives me support. All right, but guess what? These little cliches, this is what you are going to find if you study it biblically. Forgiveness costs. How do I know that? Because the greatest person that forgave was God. And was it free? No. And forgiveness is costly, especially if it is one sided.
It is costly. How do I know that? Because Jesus Christ died for your sins. He died. It is costly. So when somebody comes up and says, you know what, forgiveness is easy, --no it is not. That is why there is a whole lot of bitter people. Because forgiveness cost and forgiveness is not trying to forget. Some people like, saying forgive and forget. Forgiveness is not trying to forget. That comes after you forgive. What happens, and I believe this is why Christ taught on it. Remember what Christ said when somebody came up and said, Hey, this person offended me. How many times am I supposed to forgive them? So as a human, guess what happens to me? I forgive and if I am going to forgive on one side, guess what you have to do? You bear the cost. That is the biblical way. I bear it. In a two-way forgiveness you know somebody else might be bitter. But biblically, what did Christ do from the cross and there is this idea out there. Well, I will forgive if they asked me. Well I am glad Jesus was not like you, as He was on the cross dying--I am not forgiving them, no I am not doing it. Nope. No, no, no, no. All right. That would be like some of you.
I am glad you are not my Savior, because guess what? He said Father, forgive them. They did not ask. Some of you would be out there, you and your therapist. They did not ask, they do not deserve it. Yes, they do. You know why? Because He is Christ, He is God. And He showed us a godly type of forgiveness and that is we just grant forgiveness. Was it costly? Oh, you bet it was. So I am not going to say it is easy, but as a human, guess what we do? That once I forgive, sometimes I will come into a situation and I will remember. You know why I am not God? When God forgives me, He separates it remember as far as the East is from the West. I have a hard time with that. One, it maybe I am directionally impaired but also I am human. I can not just do that. So guess what happens? Sometimes I am doing something and that offense comes back. So I go to the Word of God and say, all right, Christ, how do I forgive properly? How often? 70 times seven. And remember what that means? Over and over and over. When it comes back, I get down and I say, Lord, you know when it is coming back again, help me not to be bitter. Help me to forgive like you did. Help me to bear that. And guess what God will do. He will help you to stay at the race. And bitterness, that root of bitterness will not come in and stop you in your race. Some of you, maybe you have let that happen. It amazes me sometimes the petty little things like, well you do not understand 20 years ago..., I can not remember yesterday. You are really, your memory is awesome. You definitely do not have Alzheimer's or dementia. There is no threat of that because you remember every offense that has happened for the last 40 something years. Learn to get in the forgiveness business, what will happen? You will become more Christ like. You will end up having that joy, that peaceable fruit of righteousness.
So our last thing here, notice in our text, so we started in verse one and we are trying to get some helps for the race. It said lay aside the weights. Then it said, let us run with patience. Then we were supposed to look unto Jesus. Then it is we to learn to take our licks. And then we are supposed to lift up our brethren, and look out for bitterness. Now in verses 18 through basically the end of the chapter is a big warning. It is the last warning passage, but right at the end it gives us the solution to all of it in verse 28. It is giving us this warning and it is saying, Hey, you need to be careful (we), and it is comparing Mount Sinai with Mount Zion. And it is comparing the old and the new because that is what the book is about. It is saying Christ is better. So what did Christ give us to help us win the race? Verse 28, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, (Here is the answer.) let us have grace,..." Grace, and this is one of the misunderstandings about grace. And I have preached this and tried to help us understand it.
In the Bible, basically in the Bible you have three different types of grace. You have saving grace. And that is found in Ephesians chapter two. In Ephesians chapter two it says, "For by grace are you saved..." That is saving grace. That is grace that enables us to have salvation because we can not do it. Remember that we have all kinds of definitions of grace, but one of the things that grace is--grace is that enablement. It is allowing God to do that, which I cannot do. It is impossible for me to get saved, so I am saved by God's grace. So that is saving grace. But there is more than just saving grace. And that is where the liberals today in America are off. They think there is only one type of grace. That is because they are not students of the Word.
The Bible says there is sustaining grace. Where do I find that? Second Corinthians chapter 12, "And lest, I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure." Is Paul saved here? Yes. So he got saving grace. But notice what it says. He was given a thorn in the flesh, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee..." So wait a minute, you already had saving grace. What is this? It is sustaining grace. You can only stay at the race if you start understanding, Hey, let's get some grace, well, wait a minute. I have saving grace, but I need grace every day to sustain this race. Why? Because I will get discouraged. I will get down, I will start letting bitterness creep in. I will start not taking my licks like I should. I will start putting on some weights. I will start maybe dabbling with some besetting sin. What do I need--sustaining grace, I need His enablement. It is not about me. It is not just that I could do this. No, I can not. And that is what Paul said. How do I know that? Because he said, I can't do all things myself. Right? He said, "I can do all things through Christ..." It is His grace that allows you to do this. It is the sustaining grace and this is what he said. "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."
Then there is one last grace, there is a sanctifying grace. I find that in first Corinthians chapter 15 in verse 10 it says, "But by the grace of God I am what I am..." It is sanctifying grace, by the grace of God I am what I am. So if we understand what grace is, when somebody comes up to me, I was talking with my boys about this or my son yesterday about this. If somebody comes up to one of the wrestlers and says, Oh man, that was awesome! Yeah, God is good. Why? Why, can I say that? Because by God's grace, I am what I am. Oh, that was an awesome message. Amen. That was God helping me. Or, should I be all proud, like I know it was unreal. I know, I just felt it! You know what I mean? You know how you just.... No, because it is by God's grace. What is God's grace? It is that enabling, which I can not do. So what is Paul, I think I know this. Today, if we would walk up to Paul, but on the earth, if we would come up to Paul and we say, Paul, wow, look at all the churches you started. Yeah God's grace enabled me. That is what I believe he would say. Why? Because he said it actually. In first Corinthians 15, "But by the grace of God I am what am: and his grace, which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
There is a sanctifying grace and that grace enables you to keep at the race, to finish your race, to do what you are supposed to do. So I can not take credit. Oh, I have been working on my stride. Yeah. Yeah, it has just helped me. I have really trimmed down some of the minutes and seconds here because I was able to get this nice tank top? It is made out of shark skin. Yeah. It is slick and then I vaseline it. I just get like extra time. I mean it is just helping me as I am flowing through. No more friction. But that is the way some us are. All right. We laugh with people, you know, in the world that way. But guess what, spiritually, we kind of get that cocky, don't we? Oh yeah. I really understand and I think all of us know this. The book of James is written to us because we are lazy people and we need to work at our faith. We need to work at it, but there is something in man that all of a sudden because of God's grace and He has helped you, then all of a sudden you are like, yeah, I did that. No, you did not. Here in this passage he says, "But by the grace of God, I am what I am: ...but I labored more abundantly than they all..." I did more than all of them. No. Then it continues on what, "... yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Stop taking credit for the good that is in your life and start saying it is the grace of God. It is His sanctifying grace. He can help us.
This evening, we looked at this morning and this evening and we looked at seven things. Lay aside our weights, running with patience, looking unto Jesus, learning to take our licks, lifting up the brethren, looking out for bitterness, and let's get some grace. Those are some helps to what? In verse one there is a race that is set before you, run it with patience. That means get at it. There is a story of yesteryear of three young men who lived out in the country and the snow had covered the ground. Three boys were playing in it and a neighbor man saw them playing and he came out and he came up to the young boys and he said, Hey, would you boys like to run a race? And he pulled out his wallet and he said, and I have got $5 Oh, that's the Victor's crown. You guys want to run a race? They were like, Oh, you bet. And he said, well, it is going to be a little bit different. He said, I am going to walk around over there. And he said, when I give the signal, I want you to run towards me. But it is not the first one to get to me. It is the one in the snow that has the straightest line, the straightest steps. So he walked around and he said, go. The first guy was really concerned, he was like, I am going to have the straightest steps. So he was looking right, looking at his feet. You know what happened? They were all over the place. All right? He barely made it to the guy because you would look down and he would be looking, he is like straight, straight, straight, straight. Right. And then all of a sudden he was not straight. They were all running together. So the first guy is looking at his feet, this second guy starts looking at the first guy and is laughing. And then he is looking over there and he is looking at the third guy and he is looking at the two guys. So guess what he is doing? He is weaving in between them. The third guy figured it out. He looked straight at the man and he made like a beeline to the finish. The third guy, won. Why? He was looking at the finish.
This evening that is my challenge to you? Verse two says, Look unto Jesus. Keep focused on him. You have a race and the tendency is going to be to look at yourself. Look at everybody else. But the author reminds us again, because what is the point of the book of Hebrews? Christ is better and He is better to keep your eyes on.