Attitude the Key to Endurance

Sermon Text:
Hebrews 12:3-17

We were running stride for stride when we hit the sand dune. By the time we came out of the dune my opponent had dropped back 40 yards and in the half mile to the finish line was unable to recover. That day, as a high school freshman cross country runner, I came to value more deeply my coaches and the training they required of us. In a workout earlier that week our coaches had us run sprint repeats across that sand dune. It was an incredibly hard workout; I distinctly remember tasting blood from my throat through the last several sprints. But the results on race day made the pain of that workout worthwhile.

We are running the race of faith (Heb. 12:1-2). Our race includes pain and suffering at many levels and in many ways. That is why we must run with patient endurance. And the key to patient endurance is attitude. The point of my running story is that my attitude changed. My attitude prior was not bad. But on that day my belief in the value of our workouts and my commitment to endure the pain of our workouts increased. Rather than thinking, “Oh no, what are they going to make us do today?” my attitude became “Bring it on, let’s do this!”

In Hebrews 12:3-11 the Preacher speaks to the attitude of the Hebrew Christians towards their suffering. Whether they become bitter or better will be determined by their attitude towards the suffering which God was allowing them to suffer. The key word in 12:3-11 is discipline. It refers not to punishment nor church discipline but to child rearing. A better word would be training. The Preacher has in mind the parenting process by which a child is brought to maturity. As any good father (and mother) trains his children so also God trains His children.

In 12:3-11 the Preacher shifts from the metaphor of a race to child rearing. Just as a good Father requires hard things of his son in order to bring him to maturity, so God uses suffering/persecution to bring His children to maturity. Though some of us may not have had a father or a good father, we can relate to the comparison through a good coach or teacher who required hard things of us in order to bring us to maturity.

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