The Triple Threat to Discouragement - Romans 12:12
The Inaugural Address

Eat Well, Train Well, Run Well

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For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11, ESV

We don't like discipline much and that is fine.

It is painful. We like pleasant things. When we allow our preferences for that which is pleasant and comfortable to rule, we suffer in the future.

Look at our bodies. Do they reflect an embrace of discipline or an acquiescence to convenience and comfort? If they have been coddled and treated to excess, they will serve us well as time passes on.

The physical life mirrors the spiritual life in this way.

Hebrews 12:11 compares the moment to the eternal and paints the canvass of the future with images of the beatific and peaceful fruit of righteousness eternal abundant at the table of grace.

What will it be?

Cheap, calorific, processed junk food here and now, a high fructose corn syrupy spirituality or a feast of unimaginable delicacies in the presence of the best company we could ever think to invite down the road?

Sitting in a recliner, guzzling beer and chips which watching the world go by is an option. They don't call that piece of furniture a "Lazy Boy" for nothing.

Another option is to ingest quality spiritual nourishment, train vigorously, run the race, and finish well.



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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,fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
    and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

Hebrews 12:1-12, NIV

Consider the cloud of witnesses. We live in a day when we have taken the word, "cloud" to refer to some shared space in cyberspace where information, networks, and representations of humanity, personality, and community reside and collide. The cloud consists of banks of computers all over the world and in orbit around the globe. It is definable, but difficult to know in full. But the cloud is Hebrews is vaster and even more challenging to locate except by faith. Yet, it is real and somehow, all who have entered the cloud have become a cheering section for each of us who runs the race of faith in real time. Let us run. Others have and they are our witnesses that there is a finish line and the One who ran before us with suffering and sacrifice awaits us at the finish line.

It was joy set before Him and it is joy set before us. We don't like the shame we endure. He despised it but did not allow it to define it or to define him. He endured it; he did not let it defeat or distract him, but turned it into a means of glory. Learn to endure what you despise. Shuck the shame and run for your life, not away, but toward the goal. Everything that would defeat or distract becomes a means to glorious end if you don't stop. Keep on! Look to Jesus!