Read: Hebrews 12:12-17
The author of Hebrews has just encouraged his readers to shed sin and focus on Jesus. Coming off of this, he gives a great “therefore” talking about the implication of what he has just said concerning the cloud, race, and fatherly discipline metaphors. First, he encourages his readers to be “healed” rather than have what is “lame” be put out of joint. In the context, the author here is probably talking metaphorically again about the weak areas of one’s life, encouraging them to strengthen these areas so theses areas will not become problem areas later on. Second, he encourages his readers to strive for peace with everyone and holiness. The implication here is that without holiness no one will see the Lord. The author here seems to have a concern for the outsiders looking in, namely those who are not believers yet. For this reason, he wants those who are believers to be at peace with nonbelievers and to live in a way that his holy so the outsiders can see the Lord in through the believers. In regards to holiness, the author lists three things he wants his readers to do: see to that no one fails to receive the grace of God, that there be no “root of bitterness” among them that would “defile” them, and that there be no sexual immorality or “godlessness” (“godlessness” Gk: “bébēlos” here isn’t talking about lack of belief, rather lack of piety – the antithesis of respect for God.)
In regards to this, the author of Hebrews draws from the Old Testament concerning Esau, the eldest son of Isaac and brother of Jacob. Esau notoriously and foolishly sold his birthright – that is his blessing from his father as the oldest son – for a bowl of soup (Genesis 25:29-34). In doing so, Jacob received the blessing instead. When Esau realized what he had done, it was too late. His actions couldn’t be undone. He wanted to turn back his decision (that is “repent”) but he couldn’t. The relationships here were not damaged beyond repair. Jacob and Esau eventually reconciled (Genesis 33), but nevertheless what had been done could not be undone.
The admonitions to strengthen weak areas and to be found blameless speak to the importance of holy living. Many Christians are just one sin away from a something that could forever damage their witness as a follower of Jesus. Just about everyone could name some high profile minister whose moral failure sent his ministry into a tailspin. But being low profile doesn’t make one immune. A fit of rage at the wrong could cost one a job. One too many drinks could be the difference between the life and death of another person. But even so, the slow fade caused by the cancerous effects of a single, seemingly small sin could have last effects. Trading the blessings of Christ for short lived satisfaction is foolish and it is most certainly a hindrance rather than a help to the gospel. Christians would be wise to identify areas of weakness and strengthen these areas before the weakness turns into a debilitating sin.
Lord, Help me to know where I am weak so that by your help I may be made strong.