Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
I couldn’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard this verse quoted with the commentary that we have all these saints cheering us on. Frankly, that’s closely tied with Catholic veneration of saints. This is indeed referencing the many heroes of faith talked about in chapter 11, but the whole question is that of the meaning of “witnesses.” The Japanese is much less open to confusion, because the term used is the one that refers to someone giving testimony in court. These people aren’t up there watching us, they are saying that God is absolutely faithful and Jesus is our perfect example. This goes back to Jesus’ very famous words after His resurrection: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The witnesses with which we are surrounded aren’t witnessing (watching) us, they are witnessing (testifying) to us of the faithfulness of God. That steps on our self-centered egos, but that needs to be done sometimes! We need to get it through our heads and into our hearts that it’s not about us, it’s about Him. That’s why the next verse so famously tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus. That’s what all these witnesses are telling us to do!
It’s been many years since I first realized what this verse was really saying, in contrast to what so many people were claiming it meant. However, that doesn’t mean I was instantly cured of being self-centered! I too have to keep being reminded that it’s not about me, it’s about my Lord, the Savior of the universe who wants to use me for His glory. I very frequently tell people that self-centeredness never leads to true happiness, but that doesn’t mean I operate on that principle 100% myself. However, I have certainly tasted the faithfulness and goodness of God, and I too am called and equipped with the Holy Spirit to be a witness to those around me. I am to be part of that “cloud of witnesses” for others. I’ve got to remember that what God does for me, He intends as blessing for others as well. I am not to hang onto anything, but receive it with open hands so that it may then be shared with all who will receive it in turn. I am to be a demonstration of a Christ-centered life, so that others may see and desire such for themselves, for their great blessing and God’s glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the confirmation of Your healing as I was checked yesterday, with only the slightest of marks visible, even at high magnification, on my vocal cord where two weeks earlier I had a very noticeable blister. Help me be a good steward indeed of the voice You have given me, not for my satisfaction but to bless those around me. Give me wisdom in the fairly intensive use of my voice that is called for over the next two weeks. May I speak and sing not for my ego but for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!