Please turn to Hebrews 12:12-17. The Christian life is not easy. It is a long-distance run and it is a difficult journey. The author of Hebrews knows how hard the Christian life can be and he has some words that are utterly realistic yet very encouraging. He also stresses that the Christian life is not meant to be and, in fact, cannot be lived alone. It is a life in which we need one another. Specifically, we need one another’s encouragement. We need one another’s sympathy. We need one another’s understanding. We also need one another’s example, and we need one another’s care. That is what author of Hebrews addresses in these verses. First, in verses 12-13, the author of Hebrews tells us to brace ourselves for the challenges in this life. Then, in verse 14, he exhorts us to be at peace with those around us and to pursue holiness. Finally, in verses 15-17, he tell us to be our brother’s keeper.     

I. Brace Yourself for the Challenges on Your Journey. 

In Hebrews 12:12-13, the author of Hebrews tells us to brace ourselves for the challenges on our journey. Specifically, he says, “Therefore, lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees.” Thus, he is painting a picture of people in a long-distance run or on a difficult journey who are absolutely worn out. He is saying that the day is coming in your Christian life when you are going to be tired, when you are not going to think you can take another step forward, when your hands are drooping and your knees are weak. As such, he is encouraging us to be prepared to fight through that despondency and that discouragement and even that despair. He is telling us ahead of time what we are going to experience. “There is going to be a day,” he says, “when you feel like you hit a wall in the Christian life. I have told you ahead of time. Be prepared for it. Depend on God’s grace. Believe God’s promise and fight through it like a runner fights through exhaustion in those last miles before the finish line.” He gives us a word of realism in this passage.  

It is also a word to the whole congregation about encouraging one another. We are all in the same race and on the same journey. So we are to be on the lookout for people in our midst who have drooping hands and who have weak knees. We are to be on the lookout for one another, and we are to be ready to encourage one another. One of the great ways that receive encouragement is to see another believer trust in God’s promises during life’s discouragements. When we see another believer hit the wall and trust God anyway and keep fighting through the despair, it encourages us not to give up. We have brothers and sisters who are watching and they need to see us trusting God. And so often they are strengthened because they see us continue to believe the Gospel, continue to depend on God’s strength, and fight through the hard places in life.   

II. Be at Peace With Others and Pursue Holiness. 

In Hebrews 12:14, the author of Hebrews tells us that we are to make deliberate exertion to be at peace with those around us and to pursue holiness. Specifically, he says, “Strive, for peace with everyone.” This is not peace wherein we compromise the teachings of Scripture or the deep truths of the Gospel, but it is a deliberate exertion in so far as it is possible for us that we value peaceful relations with others in our families, in our church, and especially with our unbelieving neighbors. We are to seek to be at peace with everyone and to pursue “holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Now he is not preaching salvation by personal holiness. He is not preaching salvation by works. He is simply saying that the whole purpose of God’s salvation is to prepare us for the enjoyment of His presence. God is holy and He does not fellowship with sin. So in preparation for the enjoyment of His presence, God in His kindness, by the Holy Spirit, works in us holiness, and we ourselves are to strive to grow in grace. We are to strive to grow more like Jesus. 

III. Be Your Brother’s Keeper. 

In Hebrews 12:15-17, the author of Hebrews tells us to be our brother’s keeper. First, in verse 15, he says, “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God.” In other words, the author is saying, “You ought to want all of your brothers and sisters in this congregation to obtain the grace that is held out to them in the means of grace every Lord’s Day as the Gospel is read and preached and proclaimed and applied.” Thus, we want to see them embrace the grace that God is freely offering to them. Second, he says, see to it “that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble and by it many become defiled.” Bitterness occurs in the hard circumstances of our lives when we stop believing in the goodness and the kindness of God’s providence. And when we do, it becomes contagious and infectious, and it can impact the whole life of the congregation. One of the ways that we fight this is when we see Christians go through hard things but they keep on trusting and they have a sweet spirit and they believe in God’s providence. Lastly, he says, see to it “that no one is sexually immoral and unholy like Esau.” So the congregation should fear and flee immorality. Now this is a very timely warning for us in the day and age in which we live. The diagnosis of those who commit themselves to sexual immorality and to unholiness is they do not understand the deeper joy and greater treasure that is held out to them in Christ and in the Gospel. They are settling for a base, instant gratification. And the author is saying, “Do not give in to that kind of thinking.” 

Now all of these directives are meant to be an encouragement for the living of the Christian life. There is the first encouragement to lift our drooping hands and strengthen weak knees. It is utterly realistic about the challenges of the Christian life. There is the second exhortation that we are to strive after holiness because we are preparing to be with the Lord forever together. And finally there is this call for us as a congregation to be concerned about our appropriation of grace and our guarding against bitterness and our fleeing from immorality. These things are all requisite if we are going to live the Christian life. May the Lord bless His teaching to our hearts and work the truth of His Word deep into our lives by grace.