Have you ever looked at someone's situation and wondered how they could make it through? You'd like to believe you'd offer as much grace and dignity if you were faced with the same circumstance, but the truth is you just don't know how you'd respond.
I will never forget a funeral for a nearly 30 year old man who died just months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. With 3 small children and the fourth yet to be born, this young widow stood to her feet among a packed sanctuary of people there to honor and remember her husband. With children by her side and hands raised in the air, she stood and praised the Lord as the music swelled to "Give us peace". We weren't crying - we were all sobbing. Four children left without a father, one who would never even meet his dad. A young stay-at-home mom grieved for the loss of her best friend and life partner. A talented musician and godly example, certainly a life taken too soon. It just didn't make sense. And there she was - giving God the glory. It brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat just to recall that moment. Truly, she was given grace beyond what I can imagine.
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1 (emphasis mine)
But does it work the opposite way? What about "the sin" that so easily entangles? I heard a sermon once talking about "the sin." You see, your sin isn't necessarily my sin. "THE thing" that can entrap me may be a non-issue for you.
Sure, you can stand back and judge an alcoholic when you yourself have never even taken a sip, but what about the way you binge on food you know isn't healthy for your body? You might wonder how someone could get trapped by the disgusting addiction of pornography but what about the habitual and hurtful gossip you continue to spread? One may seem like such a fool who's fallen into a pit of sin, but isn't there grace enough for even he? Even she? Even me?
That same grace extended to the widow at her husband's funeral to stand and praise God is not the same grace I will receive to overcome what I am facing. (Hang with me here.) Rather, it's the grace that God knows I need for MY situation.
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Whatever my weakness may be - a problem, a difficult circumstance, a habitual sin, an addiction, maybe something out of my hands - His power is made perfect in MY situation. The recipe for His power resting on me is my absolute need of Him. I don't have to hide my weakness because I can boast - or proclaim - it is in that situation where I know His strength is with me. And not only do I get His strength, but His PERFECT strength! The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (See Romans 8:11).
As if you need the definition of perfect...but indulge me. I think you'll like this!
Perfect - exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose
Yes, yes, yes!
Oh, praise the Lord! I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to try to attain perfection. I can admit my weakness and allow His perfect strength and power to rest on me. Now before I get away from "the sin" Hebrews 12 talks about, let's revisit the verse.
Throw off what hinders you. This is a casting aside of your burdens, your cares, your problems, your sin.
Run the race with perseverance. You can't just sit on the sidelines. You must be willing to run.
Then Hebrews 12:2-3 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Set your eyes on Him and Him alone. Let Him perfect you and your faith. Remember what He endured. Do not lose heart. Don't try to be perfect. Just let His strength be made perfect in you.
Keep reading Hebrews 12...verses 4-13 for more encouragement. Maybe part 2 tomorrow...