Life with Joyful Abandon
Have you ever been so engrossed and enthralled by something that you forgot everything else.
Meeting Amanda and willingly letting go of school.
But sometimes we let go of things because of how detrimental it might be to hold onto those things.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)
Big Idea: Faithfully serving Christ requires joyfully discarding the treasures of the world.
The Christian life is a race that requires joyfully throwing off our most precious things.
Three points to help you live with joyful abandonment.
- Run with Endurance
It is not easy to let go of things in life. The Christian life is never said to be easy. It is said to be full.
This passage reminds us that we are in a race: a fight, a contest, an agona, which is where we get the word agony. Paul said “Fight the good fight of the faith.” (1Ti 6:12, 2 Tim 4:7).
Some of you are going through life like it doesn’t matter. LIke there is nothing at stake and like nothing is after you. And that means you have already succumbed to the enemy. He has you.
A lot of people are running the wrong race. Think life is about more money. Bigger house. Bigger house so you can keep more stuff. Your not focused on God; your just running with everyone else. If you were focused on God you would get out. What is going to matter in 15, 25 50, 100 years? The shine on your new car ain’t going to matter. The success of your stock wont matter. Were you faithful to God. What are you passing on to your kids. What are you most excited about. Most love.
Many of us go through life like we are on cruise control, like it’s a joy ride and the only goal is to make sure we are comfortable. We feel entitled to ease and if we don’t get it someone messed up. Serving God means there are challenges, hardships, and adversaries. You have to run hard to achieve the things that you want, the things God has called you to do, in the way God calls you to do it. Knowing the battle helps us run with endurance.
There is a place of determination, straining. Does your life reflect that.
Last Christmas we were with Amanda’s family and I was playing the board game a Ticket to Ride with her brother. Now one thing you need to know is board games with her family are highly competitive. We were playing and I was doing pretty good. I had a number of connections and was working on the longest road (which is worth a couple points). I was focused on my section and others were focused on theirs. I needed a couple more points to win and was well on my way. It was her brothers turn and all of a sudden he makes a move on my side of the board where he has nothing. He puts one guy on the back end of my road blocking me and then he puts another guy on the front end of me. He totally blocks me in. cuts me off both ways, severs my longest road and stops any opportunity to connect anything else. He made no move to improve his side. The purpose of the move was solely to destroy me. The gall of it. It’s just a game. Easy there. I realized this was not an sit at the table and have fun game. It was cutthroat! I had the wrong attitude and was surprised by. Don’t be surprised when opposition, hardship, evil comes into your life. Run the race. And if you are not running the race you just may have already succumbed to it. Fight! Run!
After his move I checked out of the game. I had no other option. I wanted a nice relaxing game with minimal effort. It was not what I thought. I had no endurance for it. Are you running the race with endurance. Endurance is mentioned twice here. It is an essential component of our living by faith. It is steadfast, perseverance, patience resolve.
This passage connects to Heb 11. It references the cloud of witness that we are surrounded by. A cloud of people who “conquered kingdoms, administered justice… tortured, mocked, flogged, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two (11:35-37). These are the heroes of faith. If it happened to them it can and will happen to you. Run through resistance. Run through these with endurance.
You have to run and run in a way to endure. Endurance means patience. Sometimes we are running and things not going our way. The great theologian of the early church Tertullian spoke to Christians in great persecution and urged Christians who lived by Jesus precepts to wear out their oppressors with patience “Let wrongdoing grow weary from your patience.”
God’s mission is unstoppable, but it is also unhurried. Jesus modeled this in his active and resolute determination and trust in God.
Patience is a demonstration of faith. It is an opportunity to let the love of God shine and also the light that comes from his life of love and devotion (Matt 5, 1 Cor 13).
Endurance requires we Stop worrying about the race others are running! We can’t worry about the race another has. Our obstacles seem so much bigger. Their course is straighter, better scenery. Race set before. b. equivalent to to be appointed, destined: We all have different challenges. Opposition. In ancient times races were designed by officials in advance. They laid it out and that’s what the runner had to go over. Do you know that your race is laid out in advance. God has you where you are. Don’t grow weary. Don’t think it a mistake that you are where you are. Embrace the hardship that is laid before you. Accept your place.
- Cast off Hindrances
If you watch the olympics the runners are lean. They have negative body fat. It just bone and muscle. In order to compete in the race they have shed every extra ounce.
In the race we are running we have to have the same attitude. We are told to throw off every weight, burden, impediment. Sin that entangles. These mean anything that hinder, anything that slows down, anything that holds you back. It’s one thing to cast off objects because you are so preoccupied with another thing. It is another when you cast off something because it is so detrimental to you.
There should be an urgency to it. This stripping away is ultimately about habits and attitudes. We cast off hindrances that keep us from being faithful to God. We need to cast of hindrances like eternity is in the balance.
Look back in chapter 11 to see what entangled and hindered. V4 Abel offered fat from the first born of the herds. Cain offered leftover fruits. Noah obeyed God and constructed an ark while there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The ridicule the ignominy from other people. Abraham when called by God left his homeland and went to a country he did not know. He left his comforts for a land he did not know. He looking forward to his heavenly inheritance.
“By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26 ESV)
The American dream was the obstacle and hindrance that had to be thrown off. If that was Moses concern he never would have left Egypt. He could not be the deliverer he was called to be if he didnt lay it all down. Reputation. Comfort. These were all things that can be good, can be sought after, but once they are no longer furthering our faith and obedience towards God they need to be cast off. They are obstacles. Sometimes the things we seek for so long end up hindering us. Simplify.
A lot of people take themselves out of service to the kingdom because they over commit themselves on house payments, cars, they have to work all the time to make ends meet. We don’t have real relationships because we won’t let go of the image we want to maintain. We don’t have habits that reflect Jesus really is our God.
Do our lives reflect an enduring faithfulness to God’s word or does it communicate disobedience? What do our habits say about our walk with God. Your habits speak louder that your good intentions. I don’t see a fervency in people saying I want to know God better, i want to learn how to reach others, i want to
What do your habits say about your faith in Christ. Do you love his people? Do you love the lost? Tell me what you have done. Do you love Jesus? How committed to his people are. Do you believe his word is the source of salvation then show me by what you are doing? Are you sharing the word with others. Do you believe prayer is powerful and effective? Show me by how you ask people to pray for you.
The habits of the early church cause the gospel to spread because it made people attractive. They refused to bow to the Roman gods. They did good to all people. When plague broke out in 251 they responded by meeting the practical needs of people. They overcame evil with good, they loved their enemies, and prayed for salvation even of the emperors who ordered their execution. Their habits caused to investigate things further as the Christian’s character, bearing and behavior. The habitus of the individual Christian was crucial.
While away last weekend in Winston Salem we had a church planting guru come in. He knows all the stats on our society. He was saying that in the last five to ten years we have seen the biggest shift away from Christianity that our nation has ever seen. I believe a lot of that shift was people we were Christian in name only. But regardless. Jesus called his people to come together to strengthen one another, disciples others, and reach the lost. We are building a church for the people we are reaching.
Look at what had to be thrown off in the lives of the cloud of witnesses. It was the opposition of murder (sawn in two-probably the prophet Isaiah), but also the treasure of Egypt. The life that so many of us pray for. For comfort, for luxury. Are you willing to part with these to serve God.
We have to be faithful to God first and foremost. If we are faithful to God then we throw off the bad things people say about us. You will not please everybody. Cast off
This faith is incredibly freeing. Don’t get depressed at obstacles, hindrances, persecution. They have an expectation of how they should perform and they will not let anything less than that go. They want all people to speak well of them and they will not disappoint anyone, so they are pulled and pushed every direction. Faith brings health. To be healthy you have to cast things off in life.
What did the Hebrews need to do that they were not doing? They needed to be faithful in midst of persecution. They failed to grow. They ought to have been teachers by now but they needed someone to teach them. They were not pursuing growth the way they should. They were giving up meeting together. It was their habit to not gather as God’s people (10:25). They deliberately kept on sinning and “no sacrifice for sins is left but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume…” Their hearts were hardened by sins deceitfulness (3:13)
- Fix your eyes on Jesus
When you are running, you are going to go towards whatever you are looking at. Are you eyes focused on Jesus? When we adore him we want more of him. But we also see his love for us.
He went through incredible pain and sacrifice, and yet it was a joy for him to do it. His work and pain was the very means that he would be exalted to the right hand of God and given the name that is above every name. Our work and sacrifice is the way we show him our love and devotion.
He is the author and perfector of our faith. If he went through hardship then we will too. If you are ever discouraged in your life look to Jesus. Ask you self, “Did Jesus ever go through what I am going through? How did he handle it?
V2 looking to Jesus. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. (Hebrews 12:3 ESV)
Why do you face challenges. If Jesus, the Son of God, the light of the world, the bread of life, the great I am, the resurrection, endured hardships shouldn’t we. If our Lord. if the author of our faith went through then shouldn’t we. And we should know that those things are part of our story working a greater conclusion than we could ever imagine. “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Heb 12:3 ESV)
-”In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your own blood.” v4
Are you riding the church or are you carrying the church. The church should be carrying people. Those who are hurting and struggling, exploring the faith, rehabilitating the faith. If you are not in that category then you should be one of the ones carrying those. Churches die because wrong focus. It dies because of a lack of commitment. Think about how my savior was betrayed by a friend. Crowds surrounded him saying crucify. He loved me enough to bleed for me. I hardly endure a paper cut or traffic delay to help someone else.
Dont grow weary. The things God is calling you to do are fraught with challenges, hardships, people after you and things not going right. Patient endurance is the way you are going to overcome. Be faithful.
But remember that we too await what is promised. We will not see it realized in this life but the one to come.
The things the world considers shame are trophies in heaven. Give up the burdens and sin so we can take hold of He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb 11:26 ESV)
I want to end with giving you three things to consider as application.
- Commitment to Church. Are you committed to God’s purposes in the church? I want us to be committed to being together in the church, to hearing God’s word. Value being in the word together, talking about it, encountering God through his people.
- Prayer in relationships. I want us committed to know others and praying for them. Do you pray with your friends? What is holding you back.
- Movement towards the hurting. Are we doing this with people who don’t know Jesus?