Hebrews 12:1-4 contains some interesting truths about this journey called life.
First off, it is clear from verse 1 that each and every one of us that have come into Christ – accepted His payment for our sins by His blood and been baptized into Him (Romans 6:3) – has a course set before us and a race to run. It’s not a race in competition with others but to attain the prize at the end.
We are enjoined to “look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect.” (v.2, NCV)
Here are some reasons I was able to come up with.
- It helps to prevent distraction
Keeping our eyes on Jesus gives us a kind of tunnel vision where all we see is Him (in the everyday outworking of this, though, we end up seeing the world through His eyes, not that we don’t see it at all). The Amplified Classic version starts verse 2 in this manner, “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus….”
There are so many legitimate things to distract us from the true essentials of life in Christ which are:
– becoming more intimately acquainted with Him (Philippians 3:8-10);
– becoming more like Him in character (Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:11-13);
– doing the good works we were created to do (Ephesians 2:10).
As long as we are on this Earth, we will have needs to be met, the basic ones being food, clothing and shelter. We ourselves set standards for ourselves on what types of food, clothing and shelter we should have and in so doing, often cause the increase in pressure and resultant temptation to be distracted by these things. Yet Jesus Himself assured us of having these needs (“the food or drink you need to live, or about the clothes you need for your body”) met if we would simply focus on seeking “first God’s kingdom and what God wants” (Matthew 6:25, 33, NCV).
- It helps to keep us motivated
The Christian life or race is not an easy one. This is because we are not only warring within – our sinful flesh (the desires of our human bodies and unrenewed minds) fighting the godly desires of our regenerated, born-again spirits (Galatians 5:17) – but we also have contentions from outside of ourselves – from those who are offended by our pursuit of God’s righteousness in our daily lives which makes their sinful lifestyles all the more obvious and from systems that are set up in unrighteousness and which are set up to ‘punish’ the righteous, etc.
Verse 3 says, “Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[c] then you won’t become weary and give up.” (NLT) So when we feel discouraged by the constant battles, keeping our eyes on Jesus encourages us to keep going as we remember that unlike Jesus, our Example, “After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” (v.4)
- It stops us from comparing ourselves with others
With Jesus as our focus, He becomes and remains our standard – what we aspire to become. It removes the needless burden of trying to be like others around us or using others as a yardstick to judge how well we’re doing. The early disciples did it and Paul described it as unwise…..ignorant (2 Corinthians 10:12).
We will always have brethren at different levels of maturity in Christ…..at different stages of their own personal races. To compare where one is at with another is therefore quite silly. We must keep our eyes on the goal. If the goal is to be like Christ, our eyes must stay fixed on Him and we will find that we are gradually becoming more and more like Him.
How do we ‘look unto Jesus’?
- Make our worship of Him about Him and not about us (our needs).
This is most relevant when it comes to our corporate times of worship. Ironically, when the believers gathered together actually are more concerned with connecting more deeply with God; expressing their love for Him; submitting their will to Him and seeking His; asking what He wants of us as His children and servants…..He shows up and all the things we could have let distract our worship of Him become sorted out because He is present. Unfortunately, we most often come into the place of corporate worship and make the meeting about what God should do for us – the needs we have that He must meet. Whether we admit it or not, in so doing, we have made the meeting about us and not about Him. It must always be about Him.
- Read the Bible
The entire scriptures are really about Jesus when all is said and done, so the only way to really see and get to know Him is by looking into the scriptures.
The choice is ours where we will fix our eyes and the outcomes of our choice are ours to live with both now and throughout eternity.