“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
I don’t typically use the New Living Translation in my personal study, but I just loved the wording for our two verses today. I’ve been pretty consumed with study lately in regards to our identity in Christ, and I can’t help but notice the major fallout in this area, in particular within the body of Christ. What I mean by this is that there is an ever-increasing reality of anxiety, depression, suicide, and addictions, among other tragedies, and God’s people are not exempt from them. I can’t help but think that in many ways, we have lost our focus. Allow me to explain.
The above verses give us clear instruction to keep our eyes fixed and focused on Jesus Christ. Why? When we are focused on Christ, we aren’t focused on our circumstances. We can’t really do both. We are either consumed by our circumstances or consumed with Christ. Our eyes are on one or the other. Do you see how much of life is an issue of focus? And I would take it further to suggest to you that when we are consistently focusing on Christ, we become increasingly aware of who He is and what He can do. When we know who Christ is, only then can we understand who we were meant to be – “in Christ.”
The world we live in is flooded with discontentment and resentment. We want what we don’t have, and we’re resentful of others who possess what we long for. Why? I would suggest to you today that when our eyes are not on Christ but rather on others or on our circumstances, we find ourselves in resentment. When we have a fixed gaze on Jesus Christ, we find ourselves resting in contentment. That is why the apostle Paul was able to say that he learned to be content in any situation (Philippians 4:12-13). He lived much of his life in want and in danger, but he was content. Why? Because of his focus.
Does it sound like I’m trying to oversimplify your difficulty? I assure you, I am not. There is great need that is no doubt present and frightening in your life today. But great need calls for a great God, and the more we focus on Christ, the bigger He becomes and the smaller our situation seems in light of His greatness. It’s a focus issue, and it ultimately will lead you down one of two roads:
Resentment or contentment…
The extent to which you focus on something determines its size in your mind. Will you choose to fix your gaze on others and all that they have that you lack? Then, resentment. Or, will you “keep your eyes on Jesus”? Then, contentment. You decide.