“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).
When I was in junior high school, what some call middle school today, 7th grade I believe, I was not big enough to take a hit from the football players. I was kind of a skinny kid. I did not do well in other sports like baseball or basketball either. So, I tried to see if I was any good at running track and field sports. However hard I tried, I was still never the fastest either. I was okay, just not the fastest, and I found out that as long as I kept my focus on myself and my race and did not pay any attention to the other runners, I was faster. It seems when I would take my focus off of the race that I was running I would slow down. I was overwhelmed with the other’s abilities instead of focusing on my race.
This is the case for all of us and the main point in these passages. In the middle of these verses we read, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Each of us has a life that God has set out for us to live, and we must live that life as He intended us to live it to be fully alive. We can’t let sin and its deceitful ways creep into our lives and harden our hearts. We also cannot let the snares of this world entangle us and trip us up.
In fact, the heart of these verses is the middle part that says, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” It is the takeaway; we must persevere in our faith. Growing in spiritual maturity and holiness. This section was purposely bracketed by the writer of Hebrews with “the great cloud of witnesses” from the past and the “Author and Protector of our faith” going forward. Those like Abraham, Moses, and Noah and others from the Old Testament as well as Jesus Christ Himself show us how to live by faith and be holy. They show us how to not become trapped and discouraged by this world and how to run the race to its full completion.
We must also remember that only Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” So only He has the insight and wisdom to turn the adversities of our lives into sanctifying grace.
How are you running the race? Are you more focused on the other runners of the world or on the race set out for you?
How does focusing on Jesus help you run your race of life?
Have you cast off all that would hinder or entangle you from Jesus?