Don’t Be a Hero

Don’t Be a Hero

“How many times am I going to have to learn the same lesson?”  Ever been there?  You feel like you’re plugging along, only to catch yourself falling in the same area of temptation again. You find yourself drowning in worry, stress & anxiety again. You realize you’re doubting that God will provide for you again. I don’t know about you, but there are times where I find myself in these moments, and my heart just sinks. I feel like such a failure, and I wonder why God continues to be so patient with me. I convince myself that He is so ashamed and disgusted with my inability to learn from my mistakes & avoid them. In these moments, it’s almost as if I’m picturing Him as a frustrated teacher, slamming a ruler on my desk & raising His voice at me, “When are you ever going to learn?!” And it’s when I assume God is ashamed of me that I seem to distance myself from Him even more, telling myself the last thing He wants to hear is another broken-record confession from this slow learner. Am I alone, or can anyone relate?

While I have often found myself in the midst of that very cycle, only recently have I realized just how backwards that mindset is! Our inability to go on a “perfect streak” of following the commands of Scripture shouldn’t drive us down into a pit of guilt & shame. It shouldn’t cause us to consciously distance ourselves from God, fearing only to receive a harsh reprimand from Him. Instead, it should immediately push us to the gospel. But why doesn’t that happen?

I believe that we get caught up in a “heroes of the faith” mindset too often. We read & learn about characters of the Bible like Noah, Abraham, or Moses. We read about them in – the “Hall of Faith” – and see all of the incredible things they accomplished. We focus on their triumph & forget about their trials, and incorrectly our application is to “be like them.” But when we place people on a pedestal, and our aim is to “dare to be a Daniel,” to “be a hero of the faith like Moses,” or to “confidently slay our giants like David” – we only set ourselves up for extreme frustration when we can’t live up to the hype. When we read this passage and our application is focused on joining the “heroes of the faith” by emulating people, we completely miss the big picture of it all: The Person.

The common tie between all the characters of is that all of their accomplishments were made possible “by faith.” But what is faith? Was it their will to succeed? Was it that inner quality to put their heads down, grind it out, and find a way? Faith is only as good as the object it rests in. We can’t rely on “our faith” if it only rests in some inner desire to be good. Instead, their faith was an active trust; securely anchored, grounded, and placed in the subject of the entire book of Hebrews – Jesus Christ. The Great High Priest, who is better than the angels, better than the prophets, and yes – better than Moses. His once and for all sacrifice for sin did what the daily sacrifice of bulls and goats could never do (). He is the one and only mediator between God and man, making peace by the blood of the cross. And when our faith is grounded in Him, we can victoriously claim – “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

So yes, I’m a slow learner when it comes to keeping all the commandments of Scripture. I fail miserably, and often. But so did Abraham – he had a lying problem. So did Moses – he couldn’t follow directions on whether to hit or talk to a rock. So did Paul, the guy who wrote most of the New Testament – he called himself the worst of all sinners! The thing is, we’re all slow learners, and we’ll never live up to the standard…but that’s the point! Instead of feeling defeat & shame, may it drive us toward the gospel & the grace of Jesus Christ! When we catch ourselves in the midst of anxiety or doubt, we shouldn’t feel like Jesus is rebuking us for “not getting it” – we should view it as a gracious reminder: that He is faithful in our unfaithfulness. He is perfect in our imperfection. He is strong in our weakness. Our identity & position before God the Father is based on the finished work of Jesus. It is a done deal – just as we can do nothing to earn it, we can do absolutely nothing to change it. “God accepts us on the basis of Christ’s perfection, not our progress.” (Tullian Tchividjian)

In his book Glorious Ruin, Tullian also gives this encouragement to those of us who get discouraged when we fail:  “God doesn’t give us advice about how to overcome; in the gospel, Jesus has already overcome! …  Jesus is strong, so we’re free to be weak; Jesus won, so we’re free to lose; Jesus was a somebody, so we can be a nobody; Jesus was extraordinary, so we are free to be ordinary; and Jesus succeeded for us, so we are free to fail!”

Let’s abandon the defeat & discouragement found in the “heroes of the faith” mentality, and cling to this hope: Jesus is THE hero of the faith, so we don’t have to be one.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (ESV)

11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. (ESV)

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (ESV)

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (ESV)

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