On your mark, get set, go!!!
This is a phrase that we are all probably very familiar with. One might hear this phrase called out to competitors at the beginning of a running race. Once you hear the word “go”, you know that you can move from the starting line and begin running your race.
I often look at Olympic runners and stand amazed at the talent before me. From sprinters to long distance runners, they all have a desire to step up to the starting block and run the best race possible. Each runner aspires to take home the gold metal and be the best. Runners have to undergo countless hours of rigorous training to fulfill this desire.
To compete at the Olympic level, I’m sure certain activities and even food choices had to be laid to the side to ensure the best performance for the race. A runner can be extremely disciplined in this way, because obtaining the first place prize is set before him. He would quickly release any and everything that would hinder him from receiving the gold metal. Anything that would help him receive the gold metal would be quickly embraced and implemented into his routine. The determination and discipline of an Olympic runner is something to be admired.
Now let me confess, although I admire the discipline and talent of an Olympic runner, I am by NO means a runner. I don’t mind exercising, but running is just not my cup of tea! I am not a runner in the natural, but I am a runner in the spiritual sense. This is because as believers, we are in the spiritual race called life. There are multiple scriptures throughout the New Testament that speak of this. If we are all runners in the spiritual race of life, then we should want to run our race well. But how do we go about doing this? Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us some insight on how we can run the race of faith well. Let’s take a look at it below.
“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. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Hebrews 12: 1-3 ESV
Chapter 12 of Hebrews opens with mentioning a “great cloud of witnesses” that surrounds believers. The great cloud of witnesses is referring to a list of believers from the previous chapter, that ran their race well by having unwavering faith in the Lord. Each person mentioned was able to do great things for Him. Some of the people mentioned in Chapter 11 were Abraham, Issac, Moses and Rahab. They are all apart of this great cloud of witnesses who ran their race well. Hebrews 12:1 lets us know of a few ways we can run like the saints who have gone before us.
Lay Aside Every Weight and Sin To Run Well
Verse 1 says, “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.” The first instruction mentioned to help us run our race well is the action of laying aside every weight.
Have you ever seen a runner with ankle weights on during a race? Neither have I. If a runner decided to do this, it would cause him to run at a slower pace. This would be counterproductive, and would greatly hinder his chances of winning. Instead of weights, a runner would ideally want to be as light as possible. This would give him a higher chance to run at optimal speed. It is the same for us as believers. We have to lay aside every weight that would hinder us from running our best race for the Lord.
I want to note the distinction the author made between weights and sin in verse 1. The author makes certain to separate them in this verse. This would imply that they are two different things. A weight would be anything that would slow us down. It may not be a sin to engage in it, but it does not help to advance your relationship with the Lord. Weights could be excuses, fears, distractions, habits, or even our entertainment choices. They may not be “sin,” but if they do not cause us to grow in godliness, we are to strip ourselves of such things.
The second thing we are to remove is the “sin which clings so closely.” Sin has a tendency to entangle us, causing us to trip and fall during our race. If we want to run our race well and finish strong, we are to examine our lives and rid ourselves of all sin that hinders our progress. We can’t possibly run effectively if we continue to trip over our sin.
Endurance Is Needed To Run Well
After we strip off every weight and sin, we are to run the race marked out for us with endurance. As a believer, it is imperative that we first understand that we don’t get to set our own course in this life. The Lord has gone before us, and He has marked out the course we are to run. We are to follow the course clearly marked out and then we are to run with endurance.
Endurance is defined as, “the fact or power of enduring an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way.” Your race will look different from mine, but what will be common in both is unpleasant or difficult situations. We have to be able to endure these difficult situations. We don’t need our faith to give way before we reach the finish line. Verse 2 of Hebrews 12 lets us know how we can be motivated to endure until the end.
Motivation to Endure By Faith
Hebrews 12:2 says, “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.” Looking to Jesus as our example gives us the motivation needed to endure our race. The scripture says He is “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Our faith began with Jesus. He will be the one to perfect it or bring it to maturity. If we are to keep the faith during our race, we have to look to Jesus. This means that we are to look away from everything else that would distract us. If our eyes are not on Jesus, our faith will surely fail. This would be devastating, because without faith, it is impossible for us to finish our race well.
So looking to Jesus allows us to keep the faith and gives us motivation to endure. When we look to Jesus, we see that He received His motivation to endure by the joy set before him. Do you know what that joy was? It was seeing you and I, along with all of mankind, reconciled back to our Heavenly Father. With eyes fixed upon this joy, Jesus had motivation to endure the agony of the cross. Thank you Lord for enduring!
Jesus had a joy set before him and guess what saints, so do we. The joy for us is the prize that we will obtain once we cross the finish line. We will receive the crown of life and be able to spend an eternity with Jesus. This is apart of our motivation to endure.
Remedy For Growing Weary In Your Race
This race that we all have to run is sure to have long, grueling hills to climb, and has the potential to cause our faith to fail. To ensure this doesn’t happen, we have to fix our eyes upon Jesus. Hebrews 12:3 says, “Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” We are to consider the life of Jesus because he was able to endure absolutely horrendous circumstances, and not lose heart.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the remedy for not growing weary and losing heart. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, weariness is right around the corner. This is exactly what the enemy would like for us. He wants us to get our eyes off of the founder and perfecter of our faith, so that our faith will slowly give way. When we face hard situations, don’t take your attention off the Lord. We are to instead, set our gaze on Him. This will enable us to endure and not grow weary.
Let’s Finish Well
If you are a follower of Christ, you have already entered your race. My prayer for you is that you are running at top performance. If you are not, I want you to consider the wisdom given in Hebrews 12 for us. Be willing to ferociously strip off every weight and sin that would hinder your progress. Look to Jesus as your example and motivation to endure during your race. Push past every temptation that will try to get you to become weary. Fix you eyes on Jesus and your faith will not fail you. You may be in mid stride along your race, but when you consider the life of Jesus, you will have the faith needed to run your race well.
We have a great cloud of witnesses who were able to finish their races well. It’s never too late to join them. To finish our races well, we have to do what needs to be done. Let’s do it. A crown of righteousness will be ours when we cross that glorious finish line. Let’s run to win the prize!
On your mark, get set, go!!!
- What are some weights in your life that may keep you from running your race well? What plan can you implement in your life to begin to strip them off?
- Are you feeling weary or fainthearted? How can you begin to refocus your attention on Jesus to avoid this in your life?