Hebrews – Chapter Twelve XXIII

by Ed Urzi

“Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong” (Hebrews 12:13 NLT).

Much like a mineworker who extracts valuable ore from a productive mine, the author of Hebrews has consistently returned to the Old Testament (and the book of Proverbs in particular) to unearth important spiritual truths for his audience. In this instance, Proverbs 4:26 provides the underlying imagery for the “straight path” referenced here in Hebrews 12:13: “Carefully walk a straight path, and all your ways will be secure” (GW).

In a spiritual sense, we can “mark out a straight path” by prayerfully removing those obstacles that might cause us to deviate from God’s course for our lives. Those who do so receive a dual benefit. First, this approach minimizes the possibility that we might stumble as we travel the road that God has prepared for us. Next, it serves to protect the weaker or more vulnerable areas of our lives from injury (as represented by the word “lame” in the passage quoted above).

While “making a straight path” is relatively straightforward in theory, it is likely to be much more difficult in practice. For instance, this might require us to re-evaluate the relationships, activities, entertainment choices, or other pursuits that restrict our ability to follow God’s path.

In a larger sense, there are three primary obstacles that often inhibit our ability to follow this counsel. The first obstacle involves the pressures that are exerted upon us by a modern-day world that functions as if God did not exist.

We find the second obstacle in our own natural tendency to think and act in ways that are misaligned with God’s intent for us. The third obstacle lies in the form of a powerful, unseen spiritual enemy who seeks to overthrow the Creator and subjugate His creation. Taken together, these three obstacles are commonly known as “the world, the flesh, and the devil.”

The difficulties we encounter as a result of these common obstacles are often little more than variations in the time, place, and method of obstruction. Whenever we face such challenges, we would do well to remember the future that God has prepared for those who love Him. We should also remember Jesus’ own message of encouragement from John 16:33…

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”