Jesus made it clear in John 10:10 that He came to earth so that His followers would have “a rich and satisfying life.” This includes both this life on earth and life in eternity. This abundant life is freely offered to us. Like any gift we are given, however, we must take hold of it. After all, if we do not claim it and hold onto that life He offers, we will not fully experience the joy and the peace of life that He gives.
The book of Hebrews teaches us that we ourselves must take responsibility as we seek to hold on to the abundant life that Christ gives. He urged readers in Hebrews 12, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (verse 1). In other words, if we want to embrace the life Jesus offers fully, we have to let go of the things of earth that hold us back. These things include temptation, anxiety, fear, loss, loneliness, and more. If you are like me, you are probably thinking, “How do I let go of these things?” The writer of Hebrews must have anticipated our question because we are given our first step in the very next verse of Hebrews, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (verse 2). When seeking to let go of the things that try to steal the joy of the abundant life Christ offers, we first look to Christ. We seek His help. We turn to Him in prayer and scripture reading. We follow His example. We can also turn to God’s people to help us as we seek to live the abundant life God wants us to live.
Christ offers us abundant life in Him. The question is, will we take hold of that life that He offers? Will we keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the very giver of life? Our hope is that we will shift our focus to Him, seeking His help and guidance as we strive to let go of the things that are holding us back from the abundant life that He calls us to.
Take a moment and think about your life. Take out your journal or a notebook as you process. Are you taking hold of the abundant life that God offers? Is there anything holding you back from the rich and satisfying life that Jesus offers? If so, what is it? Turn to God. Ask Him for help as you let go of anything keeping you from experiencing abundant life. Then, think of someone you can reach out to pray for you and provide accountability.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.
A Call to Listen to God
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.
You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”
No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.