“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.”
Thoughts… Hebrews was written to 1st century believers of Jewish background. They got off to a great start in their Christian faith, but because of unexpected suffering, they were thinking about walking away and returning to their Jewish roots. That’s why the writer pleads with them to run their faith-race with endurance. And he gives them—and us—some great advice on how to run strong and finish well.
One of the most overlooked principles on effectively running the faith-race is simply this: You will need to find strength from those who’ve gone before. That what he is referring to when he says in verse one, “Therefore since we are surrounded by this huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…”
The Bible isn’t just a history book; it not just about people who lived and died a long time ago. Hebrews 4:12 says that scripture is “living and active.” It’s an operator’s manual of living faith to help you today. Romans 15:4 says, “Even if it was written in Scripture long ago, you can be sure it’s written for us.”
And in a very real sense, anyone who has run a victorious race of faith—from the ancient past right up to the present moment—is on the sidelines cheering you on. Hebrews 11 contains a long list of both familiar and not-so-familiar people who, themselves, faced a tough race. They were ridiculed, mistreated. Some left their families and homes to serve God. Some paid the ultimate price of hardship and sacrifice, even giving their lives to follow God. But no matter what, they endured; all them were still running their faith-race when they died. And God thought so highly of them that he declared in 11:38, “The world was not worthy of them.”
When you’re tempted to slow down, when you’ve lost sight of the finish line, when you’re weary and feel like giving up, your personal cheering section of witnesses is literally in the great grandstand of that unseen dimension shouting,
“Don’t give up. We endured; we paid a heavy price, too. But it was worth it.”
There’s Abraham and Moses, David and Jonathon. There are New Testament martyrs like Stephen and John the Baptist and James. There’s Peter and Paul and John the beloved. There are even loved ones of yours who have gone on before you—and they’re at the finish line shouting, “Keep going, you’re almost there, it’ll be worth it!” And best of all, there is Jesus.
To sustain your spiritual passion for an entire lifetime, you’ve got to open your eyes to that unseen dimension and listen to those who’ve run the race before you, and above all, fix your eyes on Jesus,
“He both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Hebrews 12;2-3, The Message)
You are in the race of your life. You’ve entered the bell lap and the end is in sight. So run strong and finish well!
Prayer… Today Lord Jesus, I am fixing my eyes on you. I will eliminate all of those obstacles that would distract me from my race. And with your help, I will run strong clear to the end of the race, and I will finish well.
One More Thing… “Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.”—C.S. Lewis