“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NLT)
The great Olympic runner, Eric Liddell said, “When I run, I feel the pleasure of God.” If I’m honest, I would have to admit that I feel the pleasure of God when I’m not running! The writer of Hebrews picks up on what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians where he describes the Christian life like a race. Each Christ follower has his own race to run, a race that God set before him. For some it may just be a sprint, while for others an extreme marathon. No matter what kind of race God has marked out for you and me, He has given us three tips for winning our race.
First, keep your eyes on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2) Keeping your eyes on Jesus describes an attitude of faith and not just a single act. Jesus ran His race before us. If He is the author of our faith, then He promises to lead us to the finish line. The apostle Paul may have had that in mind when he wrote this in Philippians 3:13b-14 “… I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Don’t let the distractions of the world knock you out of the race. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
Second, disregard any shame. (Hebrews 12:3) The writer of Hebrews reminds us that in His race Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Jesus experienced unimaginable reproach that was cast upon Him both in life and in death. He suffered the social curse of being hung on a cross in public shame between common criminals, yet He disregarded its shame to finish His race for you and me! In your race, you may experience public humiliation because of sin, whether it is your own sin or the sins of others against you. If you are to keep on running you must commit it all to Christ and disregard the shame you feel. How do you do that? Like Jesus did, for the joy that was set before Him! The joy awaiting the Christ follower is at the finish line where you will hear the Father say, “Well done!” Shed the unnecessary weight of shame. Your sins are forgiven! You can run freely!
Finally, never give up! As we keep our eyes on Jesus, we’re reminded of all the hostility He endured from sinful people, yet He kept running the race. He didn’t let anything distract Him from finishing the race. The race you’re running may feel like an obstacle course. Don’t quit! Keep running. You’re not running alone. Author and Pastor Warren Weirsbe said, “Since Christ is the ‘author and finisher of our faith,’ trusting Him releases His power in our lives. I could try to follow the example of some great athlete for years and still be a failure. But if, in my younger days, that athlete could have entered into my life and shared his know-how and ability with me, that would have made me a winner. Christ is both the exemplar and the enabler! As we see Him in the Word and yield to His Spirit, He increases our faith and enables us to win the race.”
Remember, you’re not running alone! The Christian race is a relay race. We are running alongside other Christ followers who encourage us to keep on keeping on even when we feel like giving up. This is the blessing of being connected with others in a life group. If you’ve been running alone, I want to encourage you to join us this Sunday for our life class at live.wc.org at 1pm and discover how you can connect with others who are in the same race with you. Register now and we will send you all the information you need. I look forward to connecting with you this Sunday.