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“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)
Run the Race
The author of Hebrews here tells us that living the Christian life is like running a race. Scripture uses these kinds of athletic metaphors all the time to describe how we should compete with a single-minded focus on the prize.
1 Cor. 9:24-27, Gal. 5:7, 2 Tim. 4:7
The ultimate goal shapes our priorities, forces us to make sacrifices for that goal. In the end, single- mindedness will be rewarded.
Look to Christ
And Scripture says that this is the attitude that we are to have with our Christian life. We are to look towards Christ as our final destination. Everything else becomes secondary to that goal. And this single-mindedness for the faith will be rewarded with the ultimate reward. Christ is our example in this. This mental exercise of looking towards Christ and making everything second to him is what Scripture calls “faith” (Heb. 11:1). And the rest of Heb. 11 provides examples of men and women who did just that.
Run With Endurance
There are many ways that the Christian life can be compared to athletic competition. But the main point of comparison in this passage is the need for endurance. The main enemy for the athlete is not his opponent, but distraction from this single-mindedness.
What does weariness look like? Tired, no more energy to push on. It feels old. Distracted. You feel like you need a change of pace, something different. The Christian race slips to the back of your mind. It has become something that you still think is important, but it has become a very small part of your life – like oral hygiene.
We are tempted to think that this weariness, this distraction, is just the inevitable result of being in one place for a long time. It all gets old. But the author of Hebrews gives us an important insight into the real cause of these feelings. We must set aside the weights and sin, whose great strength is to ensnare.
Paul says to “take every thought captive” 2 Cor. 10:5. Too often we go the other way. We are held captive by our thoughts. We give our inner thoughts a pass, instead of confronting them. Is the floor of your mind a mess? What do you need to pick up and put away?
The Race Set Before You
You have a particular race set before you, where the temptations and challenges are custom suited to your particular needs. We are prone to think about getting past our current situation so that we can begin the real work of serving Christ. But you are already in the middle of your race.