Blog #35- The Incentive
A little incentive in life goes a long way.
We all need it, especially in the face of adversity. The strongest of souls still need motivation to persevere at times. If you are in need of one, consider these words today.
Even Jesus had an incentive and I believe it helped Him in His darkest hour.
We know Jesus labored before dying on the cross. He even asked the Father to let the cup pass from Him, if possible. He was obviously obedient, but on the eve of His most excruciating experience, He wanted to escape. His humanity cried out to be spared of the enormity that lay before Him. Thankfully, He had an incentive.
We find it in Hebrews 12:1-2.
“…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…”
We each have a race. Though our courses look different, the common denominator is perseverance (which Jesus exemplified by pushing through His desire to detour and walking to the cross). Sandwiched in the middle of verse two, though, is the tiny snippet that kept Jesus running successfully. Don’t rush past it.
“For the joy set before Him...”
I imagine Him hanging on the cross in unspeakable pain. I picture the crowd jeering and casting off looks of disdain. Oh, the burden that draped over His shoulders, weighing His head down in agony. Where is the joy?
Any Bible reader, novice or seasoned, understands what joy the author speaks of. It’s the much-anticipated reunion with the Father and reentry into Heaven. It was also knowing the passageway would be clear for anyone choosing to follow Him there.
There was joy, alright.
It was the incentive that kept Jesus on the cross and propelled His perseverance. And that same joy is available to us.
The problem is we don’t focus on it.
We hang on the crosses of our circumstances and lose hope. We languish in our situations, only noticing the pain. We focus on the hardship and only hear the negative voices around us. And over time those voices start calling from within.
“There is no joy.”
Thankfully, by revisiting Hebrews 12, we can break free from that downward trajectory. It starts with one simple instruction: fix your eyes on Jesus. That’s a supremely churchy phrase that believers vigorously agree with, but what does it actually mean? How exactly do we fix our eyes on Him?
Simply put, we mimic what Jesus did on the cross when He fixed His eyes on the Father. Two very important principles guided Him:
1. Jesus knew where He was going.
The cross was the not the end, Heaven was. So, on days that feel unbearable, remember, this is not your final destination. Your season will come to an end. It might not be until Heaven, but it will end.
And it will end well.
2. Jesus knew His purpose here on earth.
The objective was to show the world the Father is real (i.e. give Him glory). Being so rooted in that purpose, He did not fear pain or perseverance. He didn’t like it, but wasn’t afraid of it or confused by it. Jesus knew suffering would lead to a greater impact and that was His goal.
Therefore, we must constantly assess our desires. Is our personal success more important than His? If it is, suffering will be viewed as pain without purpose. Needless trials that have the potential to, at best, discourage and, at worst, derail. When we grasp that every part of our lives is used to make us better tools for Him, we see suffering as the means to a very good end.
In summary, it all ends well with believers. Really well. So, join me in fixing my eyes on Jesus in the midst of whatever is messy and uncertain in your life.
Oh, for the joy set before us! What a wonderful incentive.
If you are a Christian, take time to see your circumstances through those two principles. If you aren't, consider the invitation to do so. It will change the way you view suffering. Click here for more information.
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