Many people are focused on the Olympians in Rio at present, as the world is glued to their television screens, looking at the athletes competing. But I’m reminded of the book of Hebrews Chapter 12. At the beginning of this chapter we’re encouraged to run with perseverance the race marked before us, throwing off anything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles! What a challenge!
The Olympians are running a race to win the highest prize of the competition, which is a gold medal, or perhaps a moment of glory. I’ve done some running before, and I know it’s not easy to run. You have to push through. You have to be motivated to continue with the discipline. You have to prepare yourself, and set a target. If you’re going to run in a marathon, you have to have an appropriate outfit and be prepared physically and mentally. If you’re unprepared for the race, it’s too easy to give up, or drift away.
But we are being called to run a race which is so much more rewarding. This race is one of faith. Our motivation to run this race is that, we’re not alone, we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are mentioned in Hebrews Chapter 11. They’re men and women who ran their race of faith and endured to the end. They’re the witnesses saying, “It’s possible to run. We’ve done it”. They’re giving a testimony of their lives rather than just watching our race.
This cloud of witnesses finished the race, even though they didn’t obtain what was promised to them, but only saw it from a distance (Hebrews 11:39). By faith they finished the race. So can you. Knowing we have this cloud of witnesses, we should, therefore, throw off everything which hinders us and the sins that easily entangle us. This is not a passive race we are in, we have to focus, endure, persevere, run, push through, and overcome.
Our aim is to finish the race with victory, and that victory can only be attained when we lay aside the things which hinder our run. The best way to do this is not to ask “what’s wrong with this or that?” but to ask “does it help me to run, or is it in my way?” There are so many things that can hinder us, sin is one of them, but there are other hindrances, like the bad habits and choices we make every day. We should actively choose what we hold on to, and what we take out of our lives. Take note of the things that hold you back and lay them on the side.
Finally, we must not run the race alone, we must fix our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. He has run the race Himself, and endured to the end. He must be our greatest motivation. He gives us the resources we need to run. He trains and strengthens us, and runs alongside us like a good coach. We run for an eternal prize. It’s not a prize with earthly, materialistic value, but a prize which is our eternal destiny! It’s a tough race, but we mustn’t give up. The harvest of righteousness is awaiting us. Endure by faith. ‘Strengthen the feeble arms and weak knees and make a level path for your feet’ (Hebrews 12:12-13).
Prayer: Lord, give me the resources I need to run the race set before me. Help me to see the things in my life which are hindrances, and to lay them aside. My eyes are on You for all I need to live a godly life. Help me to make the choice to run the race You are calling me to. Thank You, Lord, for Your loving help. Amen.
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