Let’s RUN our EARTHLY RACE looking at JESUS alone: "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, 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." (Heb. 12:1-2)
The epistle to the Hebrews was written to people who were being persecuted because they had forsaken Judaism in order to follow Jesus Christ. It is possible that these people may have become discouraged to give up or, even return to the old rituals that they had forsaken. The writer of Hebrews therefore presents an array of Old Testament saints (see Chapter 11) who had maintained unflinching perseverance with much lesser privileges that were witnessed by their lives of faith and endurance and set a high standard for us to emulate.
The writer of Hebrews characterizes our Christian life to a race that requires discipline and endurance (see 1 Cor. 9:24–27; Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:5; 4:7, 8). In order to reach our finish line, we must strip ourselves of everything that would impede us in our journey, and lay aside every sin that entraps us - especially the sin of unbelief. We must have complete trust in the promises of God and have complete confidence that our lives of faith is sure to win in the end. In fact, we must be prepared to press on with perseverance through trials and temptations!
In order to run our race with endurance and finish strong, we should consider three elements:
- First, we must run laying aside every weight that pulls us back. These impediments are not inherently wrong, but they tend to slow us down and must be taken off. They may include fear that shrink us back in the face of suffering (10:38, 39), bitter discouragement that defile us through doubt (12:15), and sensuality that make us to seek immediate gratification (12:16).
- Second, we must run by putting off every entangling sin. This sin occurs when we are enticed by our carnal desires and are tempted. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:14-15). If we allow this sin to grow and fester, this will result in our eventual demise.
- Third, we must run with endurance. We should keep our eyes on the prize awaiting us as we cross the finish line, and be persistent in moving forward towards our destination (10:32, 36–38; 11:13). We need serious self-discipline to keep on running our earthly race effectively, as we learn from Apostle Paul who wrote: "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:27)
However, the greatest example of endurance is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the only perfect example of what the life of faith is like. He not only began the race but finished it triumphantly and today, He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. So while we glance at the saints, we should gaze upon the Savior. When we keep our eyes upon Jesus, everything else will come into focus as we avoid distractions and accomplish God’s purpose for our lives!
"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:13-14)