By Michael Smith
A Reading from Hebrews 12:1-14
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary in your souls or lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children —
“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when you are punished by him,
6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children, for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
14 Pursue peace with everyone and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
I do not enjoy running, but the writer to the Hebrews tells me today to “run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Not only that, but learning to navigate the obstacles on this course will require discipline which “always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time.” Ready or not, it is time to get going.
I am mindful that the word discipline is related to the word disciple. If we are to be disciples of Jesus, then we must be under the discipline of Christ. “Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline?” One can almost hear God saying, “this is going to hurt you more than me.” It is a painful truth, however, that only an irresponsible parent does not discipline his or her son or daughter for their wellbeing.
Today, I rejoice that God cares enough to discipline me when I need it, because God desires that I finish the race strongly. Not only that, but there is also a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on.
How is God disciplining you today in order for you to push through tomorrow?
Michael G. Smith served as bishop of North Dakota for fifteen years and is currently the Assistant Bishop of Dallas. He works with the Navajoland Iona Collaborative and is a Benedictine Oblate and an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
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