Running the Race
Participants in a race encounter roadblocks, diversions and fatigue, and the Christian life is no exception. We must run the race set before us with endurance and perseverance. The Bible is our guidebook and owner’s manual, in it we are told to conform to Christ’s likeness, bring glory to God, and fulfill His purpose for our life.
Hebrews 12:1 – “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with (surrounded by) so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
There is a wealth of spiritual truth is this verse. I want to draw your attention to six things:
- Those who have gone before us. The saved who have gone before us do not come back here to watch us and hang out with us as some spiritual being but rather are part of a great heavenly amphitheater, looking down on us. (The lost are another story).
They are sitting in that great heavenly amphitheater cheering us on in the race that is set before us. I can hear them shouting, “Come on, you can make it, don’t give up, keep running the race. I went through a similar situation and I made – You can make it too.
- We are to lay aside all that hinders us. There are things that will hinder us, dog at our feet, in our Christian walk and the race that is set before us which we must cast aside. These things will drag us down, keeping us from being all we can be and from fulfilling our purpose and calling in Him. These things must be cast aside.
- Differentiating between weights and sins. Our verse clearly distinguishes between weights and sins. All sin must be cast away and crucified (Romans 6:11-13). There are weights that can drag us down in the race that is set before us. Serious runners shed everything but what is absolutely necessary. The same must be done spiritually.
These weights may not be sin (right or wrong in and of themselves) but nonetheless they hinder us in our race. There are things that may not hinder someone else but they do us, as a result, we are to “lay aside” these weights from our lives. Likewise, another person may have things which hinder them that will not hinder us. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal this to us (Romans 14:5).
- The Christian race in general compared to an individual race or calling. We are all in this race together as believers – The Christian race or life. All born again believers and followers of Christ are running this race together.
God also has a specific race (purpose) for every follower of Christ. This is a race that is specific to you alone. This is your purpose and calling in life. You must run your race with endurance. Paul said, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain – win” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
- A marathon verses a sprint. The race we are running as believers in general and your individual race that is specific to you is a marathon and not a sprint. A sprint is usually a short race which we run fast and hard and then it is over. One is usually out of breath and worn out after a sprint and it is over quickly.
A marathon, on the other hand, is a long and drawn out race that continues for quite some time. It is a race which requires a steady pace and endurance. If one begins running a marathon as a sprint they will never reach the finish line. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1c).
- Perseverance is required. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1c). The devil’s biggest job is to get us to give up. You will experience trials, temptations, failure, sin, reversals, discouragement and disappointments. The devil will use these things attempting to make you give up in the middle of your race.
He will throw everything conceivable at you. The only way he will ever win or we will lose is if we give up. If we will refuse to give up, we will ultimately win and the devil will lose. The primary key to winning the race that is set before us is endurance. Perseverance is a must!
Paul said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course – race with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Near the end of his life, as he was sitting in prison waiting to be escorted out to the chopping block and have his head severed from his shoulders, he writes,
“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course – race, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Let’s finish the race God has set before us!