We continue the conversation from our previous episode concerning training and joy. There are many different ways to learn and grow. Life can be challenging and difficult. As we learn and grow, if we keep in mind the joy set before us, we can grow in intimacy with God and with one another. Running the race can be painful; but it is also a journey of joy. And, in the end, even the suffering is well worth it. Jesus is cheering us along the entire way.
Two Types of Teaching
There are two general applications of paideia.
Let’s say that Travis and I get in a car wreck, and I get out and I say, “Are you just too stupid to see what was going on there?” And Travis says to me, “Well, you pulled out in front of me!” And I say, “What do you mean I pulled out in front of you?”
And we start a big argument, and then Travis says, “Well, I’m going to teach you a lesson.” What’s he about to do? So that’s one kind of teaching, right?
Or another context is like you come back to the huddle in football or whatever and say that guy’s been grabbing me. He’s been holding me all day. And the other guy says, “Well, we’ll teach him! I’m going to double this guy up. I go low; you go high.”
So this is one general application of paideia. We use it this way too.
The other application is more the classroom application. Let’s look at Acts 7:22. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.”
So Moses was paideia. So how did Moses get all that education? He probably went to Egyptian Ivy League school. He probably had a tutor and went to finishing school and all that kind of stuff to be a general. I mean he was in the Pharaoh’s training program, right? It’s the best pedagogy you can have in Egypt.
It’s the same paideia. You’re learning. But there’s a lot of different ways to learn. There’s classroom learning.
Take athletics. Wally, you had two different kinds of learning in basketball, didn’t you? Two really distinct, different kinds. One was on the court. What was the other one? Film. Film room. So you’re going into the film room, and you’re watching, and they’re saying you should do this, and you shouldn’t do that.
Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:25. We’re getting educated. We’re getting trained. We’ve got to win a game. We’ve got a military campaign to do. We’ve got a kingdom to run. We’ve got a lesson to learn.
2 Timothy 2:25. “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.”
So if you’re a pastor, and you’ve got somebody who’s not obeying the truth, that’s teaching wrong things, that’s saying wrong things, that’s leading in your church the wrong way, what do you do? In humility, you go and paideia them.
This has an element of both, doesn’t it? It’s scourging, but gently. Because what are you trying to do? You’re trying to deliver them from the wiles of Satan because Satan is the father of lies, and if you’re following something that’s not true, then you’re following Satan, not Jesus.
So let’s go through and read this passage, and I want you think about joy, favor. You get to the end, and you hear way to go! You finished! You’re awesome! This is what I wanted for you! You made it! I’m going to put you in the hall of fame! I’m so happy! You pleased me because you did what I asked you to do!”
Joy set before you.
And let’s think about sitting down because Jesus said the ultimate reward is, what? I want you to sit on my throne with me. Sitting down.
And let’s think about running. You can’t get to the finish line unless you run.
And we’ll talk about standing up when we get to the end.
And also think about training, learning as you go.
Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Verse 2. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Verse 3. “For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Verse 4. “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”
Verse 5. “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by him;’”
Verse 6. “For whom the Lord loves he—“ teaches, he coaches, he mentors, he trains, he educates, he “chastens and scourges every son whom he receives.”
Verse 7. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons—” inheritors “—for what son is there whom a father does not—” train?
Verse 8. “But if you are without—” training “—of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate, and not sons.”
Verse 9. “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us—” trained us, chastised us “‑‑‑‑and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live?”
Verse 10. “For they indeed for a few days—” educated us, trained us, paideiad us “—as seemed best to them, but he for our profit—” He knows what’s best for us. “—that we may be partakers of his holiness.”
Verse 11. “Now no—” education, training, learning “—seems to be joyful for the present—” Where’s the joy? Present? Set before us. “—but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Let me just stop for a minute. This word trained is a fascinating word. Anybody have any idea what this word is? We’re in a race. We’re training for a race. Gymnazo. You starting to get the picture here?
If we’re going to run a marathon, where do we need to be? In the gymnazo. Why do we need to be in the gymnazo? We need to get some strength so we can run.
Verse 12. “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” Where do you do that? In the gymnazo. We need to run, get strong!
Verse 13. “And make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather healed.”
Now we happen to have a phenomenal example in here with us today because we have someone with a really bad knee who’s under rehab. Now when Wally starts to be able to train, is he going to go out on a place that’s bumpy with rocks and sand in order to get that knee well? No! No, he’s not. Why? It’s weak! All you’re going to do is dislocate it, right?
Where’s he going to train? In the Gymnazo! In a controlled environment, on a treadmill maybe. Or certainly on a straight path.
Remember these guys that Paul is talking to here were starting to get hard of hearing. They were starting to lose sight of what their whole walk was about. And what he’s saying here is: We’ve got a race to run! So what’s the first thing you do when you run a race? You’ve got to get off the couch! “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, make straight paths for your feet—”
One of the translations I looked at said, instead of “strengthen the hands,” it said “raise up the hands.” Stand up! Get off the couch! Get in the race! Get started! And follow Jesus who’s ahead of you.
It’s all about training. It’s education.
It’s not a passive thing. We’re here all just learning. We’re in the film room.
We do need to understand what’s going on in order to play the game. Absolutely. But, really, the goal is to play the game. The reason why we’re in here is to get prepared for out there because we want to get up and run and walk. And we want to finish.
Now all this is about training. And what is it we’re having to overcome to train? It is despising the shame. Jesus overcame sin, even to bloodshed.
So when we looked at Moses, we looked and said Moses chose instead of the power of Egypt, a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, instead of the riches of Egypt, instead of the pleasures of Egypt where sexual immorality was rampant, and he would have had it all available to him—he chose his people and the reproaches of Christ. We did a whole lesson on this.
And we looked at what the reproaches of Christ were. And Christ was reproached by his family, and he was reproached by his friends, and he was reproached by his followers, and he was reproached by the authorities, and he was reproached by the crowd, and he was reproached by the religious leaders. And he overcame all that.
Let’s just get to some practical application now of training.
If we have children, I hope that what we’ll understand is our goal as parents is not to make them comfortable. That’s their goal is to be comfortable. And they’re most comfortable when you, as a parent, are doing their bidding; and that is not the way good parenting works.
Good parenting has a goal at the end: the peaceable fruit of righteousness. The ability to make good decisions. Now they may or may not make good decisions. That’s up to them.
But if we will train them to have the ability to make good decisions, we’re being good parents. And it’s not comfortable. It’s painful going through that because children want the world to revolve around them.
We do the best we can, but it says in here, we’re not very good parents. That’s what this chapter says. Compared to God, who’s the perfect parent. And he knows exactly what he’s doing! We just do the best we can. He knows the hearts and intents. He knows the future. He knows all things. He knows exactly what we need. We’re doing the best we can to profit our children, he absolutely is giving us what there is to profit us.
And what he gives us is trouble!
So what reproaches are we going to overcome? Well, maybe you have a reproach from your spouse. It’s just theoretically possible.
Maybe your wife is unlovable. And you can talk to your friends, and they will tell you, you have every right to not love your wife. And what does Jesus tell us to do with our wives, guys? Love her as Christ loved the church and gave himself and to wash her with the washing of the word. So, not only do you have to love your wife sacrificially, according to Jesus, you have to talk to her. Which of those two is more painful?
And you have to tell her the truth.
All your friends would back you in not doing that. It’s not pleasurable; it’s painful. It’s training. This is gymnazo. You’re getting your muscles ready to run. This is running the race.
Maybe your husband is just not a respectable behavior right now. All your friends would tell you that what your husband is doing demands no respect. And not only that, he’s just not worthy of being trusted. He made a mistake last week. Everybody knew it was a mistake. So you shouldn’t trust him anymore. You just need to take control and do this yourself. And all your friends will back you.
And what does Jesus say to do, ladies, with your husband? Respect him. On the basis of? That Jesus asked you to, right? And defer. Do everything you can to follow his leadership.
It’s not easy. It’s painful. You know better. If you could just control your husband, everything would be okay, right? It’s hard! It’s training.
This is how you get to the finish line and hear God say, “You were awesome! Your husband is an idiot! And you did exactly what I asked you to do! I’m going to work him over real good. You want to watch?”
Maybe you have a problem with friends. You have a friend that stabbed you in the back, a friend that gossiped about you, a friend that has betrayed you. And it would be perfectly understandable for you to be bitter. As a matter of fact, your friends will help you be bitter! And, they will help you start a war with that person and start another gossip chain to counter their gossip chain, so you’ve got a complete war. And it will make you feel a lot better! And you’re completely justified.
Well, let’s just go on with our verses here:
Hebrews 12:14. “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord‑‑‑‑” You can’t see the Lord while you’re bitter.
Verse 15. “—looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the—” charis, the favor “of God—” You can’t please God while you’re being bitter. You can’t please God while you’re creating division and destruction. “—lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.”
Jesus wants us to love other people. It’s painful to do so. Amen to that? It’s not joyous to love other people much of the time. It’s training! It’s becoming a hero. Maybe we’re going from prostitute to hero. Maybe we’re going from coward to hero. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
Maybe an authority or someone at church has betrayed you, has taken a responsibility away from you, has criticized you unfairly. Everybody would support you. All your friends would support you in just showing them and disengaging. Showing them and telling them off, or whatever.
Well, you can do that. But bitterness defiles.
Verse 16. “Lest there be any fornicator—” someone who goes after their own pleasure instead of pleasing God, “—or a profane person like Esau—” Esau had a birthright. He was the oldest, firstborn.
Now remember, birthright means you take over the family business. You’re the ruler. And he sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. Did that bowl of stew taste good when he ate it? Yes. And how long before he was hungry again. Not very long, right?
So this is profanity. Profanity is taking something amazing that God has given us and giving it no value.
And then he realized it afterwards, but then it was too late. There is a point after which repentance is not possible. Hebrews 6 told us that. Not to get into heaven, but to inherit the blessing.
Romans 1 tells us this. The wrath of God is poured out on us who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. And it’s poured out by giving us over. God gives us over to our lust. And he gives us over to addiction to our lusts. And he gives us over to where we can’t even think straight anymore.
And I would propose to you on that third one that the opportunity for reform has passed. You can’t even think straight anymore.
Hebrews 12:17. “—when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, and he found no place for repentance though he sought it diligently with tears.”
It’s just a really extreme alternative that we have: We can either run the race painfully, get up off the couch, go to the gym, go through all that pain, and run all the way to the end. Or we can lose the inheritance. It’s a real stark choice.
And what we get with the inheritance is the peaceable fruit of righteousness to go with it. So it’s not just the reward at the end. It’s a reward where we can see God in our daily life as well.
So, Hebrews. I hope you’ve enjoyed the study. I hope you’ve enjoyed the understanding of the Jewish perspective.
I hope you understand this whole sonship: A better son with a better inheritance and better administration in a better world. And this priestly function that we have: A better priest with a better sacrifice with a better covenant, one that’s written on our heart.
These really stark examples of people who had the inheritance in hand and just frittered it away: Esau, the children wandering in the wilderness.
And these amazing guys who saw judgment ahead and avoided it; saw benefit ahead, way far off, they knew it wouldn’t be in their lifetimes, and they obeyed because they sought a city that was bigger than the city they lived in.
And then ultimately Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who has already run the race for us and is up there saying, “Go on! Come on! You can do it, guys! Keep going! No, I’m not going to let you quit! Because you’re not finished. I want you to graduate. I want you to be here with me. And you need to learn. You need to understand. Yeah, turn that other cheek. Yeah! Way to go! Love that unlovable person. That’s awesome! Keep going. Oop! Oop! You’re going to defile a lot of people if you do that! Root of bitterness! Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You can do it!”
It’s really a pretty cool picture.