October 2, 2015

Winning Your Race

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, it may be 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.

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!”

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.”