“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
The author of Hebrews reminds us that we need faithful endurance because the Christian life is a like a long distance race. We are advancing towards the goal to win a reward. This can be painful and exhausting. But the race we are in does not involve competing for the prize against our fellow believers. The prize, in our case heaven, peace and perfection goes to all who finish the race. Selfishness and self-interest have no part in this race, and in fact, will cause many to lose. The examples set by our ancestors in faith as well as Jesus Himself serve as the greatest incentive for us to endure and persevere no matter what happens. In addition, as members of the church we are called by God to help our fellow brothers to finish the course by inspiring and helping those who are faltering.
In the process of running we will encounter hardships and pain. These should not make us think the Lord is angry with us or that He is punishing us for sin. After all we are not under the Old Covenant of Law, we have not come to Mount Sinai, where the Jews were afraid to even come close to God lest He strike them down. They knew they were rebellious sinners who wanted God’s protection and blessing but did not want to obey. We, however, are under the New Covenant of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. Any of the losses, sacrifices, pain, trials, persecution and tribulations we endure in the course of our lives are to be embraced for the Lord is using them to discipline us, to help us continue to run the course and grow into the image and likeness of Christ. The pain is worth it for the prize is assured us. Therefore we can persevere as long as we keep our eyes on the goal.