Enjoying the Benefits of Obedience
1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with 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. 2 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. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
In the mind’s eye of the writer of Hebrews, I believe that he saw us in an amphitheater surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses—those who have gone before us—the patriarch heroes of faith. Just picture, in whatever struggle you are going through this week, yourself in an arena in the round. Look up and see the old patriarchs and heroes of faith calling your name and saying, “the struggle is over, you can make it. Just as I got here you can make it”. There is nothing that has hit your life that you cannot get through! They are looking at us in the endurance of our faith. Their lives are written as examples to us and whatever you are dealing with, it isn’t the end.
The word cloud that the writer uses, in Greek and Latin generally depicts a large number of people or things. It says that there is a vast amount of those who are cheering us on and watching us. If you can get in your mind that it’s not just those who you can see that are cheering you on, but there is a great cloud of witnesses that are saying “it’s going to be alright”.
There are benefits in obedience. Sometimes we have a real hard time associating joy and enjoyment with obedience because we think of obedience as a set of rules and dos/don’ts. When you think of a set of rules and dos/don’t, it’s hard to find pleasure, but the bible says that the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross despising the shame. There was a great joy for Jesus because He saw the joy that you would someday come in—if He completed His task. Once you walk this thing, it’s not hard to associate joy and obedience. There’s joy in obedience. There’s reward in being obedience.
The writer says, “Let us lay aside every weight’. There’s a difference in a weight and a sin. That’s why he separates the two. Our choices are not always between what is bad and good but sometimes what will bog us down and what will not bog us down—that’s a weight. What is the weight that you are dealing with that you need to lay aside? What is bogging you down?
Choosing to do the right thing—all starts with a thought. Anything you have engaged in all started with a thought. It is so important that we understand whatever the weight is—at some point started with a thought. Our thoughts influence our decisions. Our decisions influence our actions. Our actions lead to habits. Out habits develop our character and who we are today. Once character is developed good or bad—it’s really who we are. It’s the unsupervised areas of your life that determine what’s your character is like.
The two words ‘easily beset’ can be put into four different categories:
- Easily Avoided – There are some sins that are easily avoided.
- Admired – There are those sins that are admired.
- Ensnaring – There are sins that are ensnaring.
- Dangerous – There are sins that are dangerous.
The writer goes on to say, “let us run with patience the race set before us”. Regardless to what hits your life, regardless of the struggles you’re going through, regardless of the conflicts you’ve endured—continue to run the race with patience and endurance. In this world, stuff is going to hit your life.
There are times when obedience has great reward—even though you may not understand. Even though you have to deal with stuff that hits your life—just know that obedience has great reward. Too often, when think in terms of obedience and reward, we think in terms of the pastor, leaders, and clergy. This is for every believer. The reward is for every believer if you walk in obedience to God’s word.