The Christian life is likened to a race. In a race it’s not how you begin but how you finish that counts. Our race is not a short sprint. It’s a long distance race that requires commitment, stamina and perseverance. To finish the race and gain the prize there are three things the runners must do.
‘Let us throw off everything that hinders’. Our race has eternal consequences. Two things that hinder us are heavy weights and sin. Weights restrict activity. They’re superfluous things which bog us down and handicap us. They could even be the good things we do which God hasn’t called us to do. Sin entangles us and clings closely. Before we know where we are, we can be tripped up and fall flat on our face. Yet we had every possibility of getting the victory.
‘Let us run with perseverance’. To persevere means to endure. It’s the same word used of Jesus when He endured the cross (1 Peter 2:21). Nothing turned Him back – He never lost sight of the goal. We run in the steps of Jesus. It will involve opposition and even suffering. The race isn’t run for applause or reward, but for Christ alone. Love for Him keeps us in the race.
‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus’. In the arena the eyes of the athletes are fixed on the finishing tape, the prize, the glory and the acclaim. They’re so concentrated on the goal that their eyes never leave it. The race for the Christian demands the same dedication and commitment. Our eyes must be fixed on Jesus. He’s the prize and the reward. But our eyes must be fixed on Him for the whole of the race – from beginning to end, if we’re to finish the race well and win the prize. The athlete in the arena receives a prize in the form of a garland of flowers that won’t last long. The prize in the heavenly race is a crown that will last forever (2 Corinthians 9:25).
The writer uses the imagery of an athletic contest in a great amphitheatre with thousands of spectators. They witness the race and cheer the athletes as they press on for the prize. Our witnesses are the great heroes of faith (Hebrews chapter 11). They aren’t spectators. They’re examples for us to follow. They have gone before us and have already won the race. Their stories are inspiring and will encourage us to persevere to the end. They finished well. This wasn’t because of who they were but because they saw ‘Him who is invisible’, (Hebrews 11:27) and kept their eyes on Him. If we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ (Hebrews 3:14 NLT).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me into the race for the crown that will last forever. Please show me any hidden sin or superfluous things I’m holding on to that hinder me running well. Help me to fix my eyes on Jesus, today and every day. Amen.
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