The Simple Life of Faith (Hebrews 12:1-3)
Simplicity isn’t about not having much or getting rid of things. Simplicity is about living with singular focus.
Throughout the book of Hebrews the author makes a case for Jesus being greater. Jesus is greater than Moses. He is greater than the angels. Jesus is our High Priest. Jesus overcomes our disbelief and gives us rest. Jesus keeps us and blesses us. Jesus is eternal, so all these promises never end. Jesus offers us a new covenant that will never fail, leave, or need to be replaced, because He made the covenant for us and swears to it by Himself. He will never fail us. Jesus’ sacrifice was perfect, complete, and does not need to be repeated. We are forgiven and free in Jesus forever! And, so, we have a new way of life in Jesus. There is a new way of living. Therein lies the choice – Jesus or Judgment; Life or Death; Faith or Fear – your choice. Then the author proclaims those who have chosen Jesus, have chosen Life, and have chosen Faith. In fact, he says he doesn’t even have the time to talk about so many others who have, “…by faith, conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection, and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith…(Hebrews 11:33-39)”
This is what has come before our passage, which helps us understand our passage – Hebrews 12:1-3 – “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”
What is it about Christianity? What is it about this life? I mean it’s a tough one. How do we do it? Hebrews would say it is by faith. And, maybe, we’ve heard that a lot. “All we need is faith.” “Keep the faith.” But, what does that mean? The thing about this “great cloud of witnesses” as we see in chapter 11 is that they had faith. But, this faith wasn’t something they did, but is was something that God gave (Romans 12:3). This is extremely important, because living in faith and living faithfully happens when we receive from God. This sounds great, but we must look at our posture. What is our posture with God? Is it one of submission and surrender open to God’s grace? Or, is it one of pride trying to work hard enough to take care of it on our own? Faith maintains a posture of humility. James writes, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).”
This is what the men and women in Hebrews 11 understood. This posture of humility opened them up to God’s grace and it opened them up to the measure of faith God desires to give, so that they could continue to walk with Him humbly. It is through this faith that God empowered them to perform acts of righteousness, obtain promises, from weakness be strong, experience mocking, endure temptation, and give grace when ill treated. Humility opens us up to the grace of God and the faith that God gives, so we can lay aside fear, lay aside doubt, lay aside worry, lay aside temptation, because these aren’t the things that grab our attention. What grabs our attention is Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, so we can endure when anything is before us remembering that Who is before us is more important than what is before us.
It is simple. It is really, really hard, but it is simple. Simplicity isn’t about not having much or getting rid of things. Simplicity is about living with singular focus. When we allow circumstances or hardships to steal our focus away from Jesus we feel the pressure of trying to figure it out on our own (pride). When our focus is on Jesus we partner with Him as He leads to go where He is taking us and growing us (humility). This is Jesus’ invitation (Matthew 11:28-30). This is faith. Don’t grow weary and lose heart. Jesus is always with you.