For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Heb. 12:3
If there is one word I would rather not hear in my life, it is the word “endure”. That word implies trouble, suffering and discomfort. It implies also hardship; and one interpretation of the word “hardship” that I found in my Thesaurus says it is a lack of money. Well said, and this is the kind of hardship I could pray to God all day to never allow to come my way.
But none of the above would compare with what the Apostle Paul is talking of here (at least as I understand this scripture). Here he is not talking about hardships that the impersonal environment brings to us – things like hunger, sickness, or other deprivations, even tragedies, that we encounter in the normal course of our natural lives. These are hard enough to bear, but that is not what the Bible is talking about here. The Bible is warning us to be prepared to endure something far worse than this.
And what, pray, might that ‘something’ be? The Bible is talking of the time when people will rise up and say and do bad things against us. I don’t know about you, but I personally find it the most insufferable thing in my life when people rise up against me, whether rightly or wrongly. Generally, that translates into an attack on my pride and it is here, more than anywhere else, that my flesh literally “flies” to respond in a way that God would not approve of.
But it is in this very situation that the Bible tells us to
“consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself”.
With Jesus, of course, things went way much further. One of the most painful things that can happen to someone is to have their friends betray them. This was exactly what happened to the Lord. Scripture says:
“And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zech. 13:6); and
“But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.” (Lk. 22:21)
The verse in Luke certainly refers to Judas Iscariot; but Zechariah might very well be referring to every man since Adam. Remember Adam was God’s friend before the fall: God would walk in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day and He and both Adam and Eve would converse together. (Gen. 3:8)
And we know all the things that men did to Jesus since the day of His birth (He was denied a room to be born in and had to be born in a cattle shed) until that awful final night and in His crucifixion. But none of that could compare with men’s rejection of Him.
The Bible tells us we as Christian believers should be prepared for this same scenario in our lives. The notion of people praising us and telling us how wonderful we are is not Biblical. There are many things that men, both friend and foe, will do against us on account of Christ. No matter how ignorant we are of it, the fact is that the world is against the Son of God. Jesus Himself said,
“For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Lk. 23:31)
In the Bible, it is men that comprise the world. The heart of man is so full of evil. But the Bible exhorts us as believers to “endure” this opposition to ourselves. It will come, but we should be prepared to carry a heart of love, patience and forgiveness.
This is where the need for an understanding – a revelation – of the cross of Jesus in our hearts is most urgent. This is where the need for sound doctrine, the very doctrine that Paul exhorted Timothy to never let go of, is needed (2 Tim. 4:2). It is here that we get to understand Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:2:
“For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)
Finally, let us look at verses 5 and 6:
“5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
Notice that these verses are tied in with verse 3. In other words, when people rise up against us, it God who allows them to. They do so at God’s bidding, to the end that He might chastise us. Chastisement means, for example, crushing our pride.
In our key scripture above, the Swahili version uses the word “reflect” or “meditate upon” for the word “consider”.
Meditating is not something you can do in the blink of an eye. That is something you take time to do. That is why God’s work in our lives is not a one-time affair. On the contrary, it is a process that takes time as we patiently allow Him to mould and shape us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ. To carry Christ’s grace. The Bible says of Jesus,
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17)