Running The Race

May 29, 2024 | The Chuck Wagon

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…”
Heb. 12:1-2a; NASB

The correlation between life and running a race made here is interesting. The “witnesses” referred to here are those listed in the previous chapter.  Paul also uses a similar reference in his letter to the Corinthians (some believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but there is no concrete evidence for this). Regardless, the analogy between running a race and living life warrants a closer look at what the writer is envisioning.

Running a race involves motivation, faith, training, and showing up for the race. First, let’s consider motivation. For a Christian, the core motivation for living a holy life is that we love God through Jesus Christ and want to please Him. The Bible tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;” (Prov. 1:7a), and “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” (Prov. 9:10a). The root of that fear should be that He is above all things and, therefore, has the final say in all things. That is true, but it is not what motivates believers to live according to God’s Word. It is our love for God through Jesus Christ and our love for our neighbor that drives us to live according to His Word. This is why Jesus could summarize the Ten Commandments into two (see Mk. 12:28-31).

Next is faith. The Bible defines faith as this: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). If you were considering running a race, you would need to have faith in several things, which are primarily provided by  its organizers. Would it be where they said it would be, the length they said it would be, on the day and time they said it would be? There would also need to be some faith in your own ability to run the race. You could sit around and worry about these things until you missed the race. Or you could just disregard the worries and go to the race site and run the race. The choice is yours.

Next is training. This takes time, focus, determination, and endurance. Not just endurance for the race, but endurance to keep training even when you’re tired, disappointed, or sad. Training involves daily activities. For a race, it’s working out. Running, running, and more running. Long distances, sprints, and specialty runs. Then there is strength training, off-day activities, nutrition, rest, etc. For its life equivalent, it is daily prayer, reading God’s Word, and fellowshiping with other believers. It is also spreading the Gospel, working on personal sin issues, attending Bible studies, and loving others without consideration for your own feelings about them. These will never end as long as you are in the race.

Last, but certainly not least, is showing up for the race. As the above verse says, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us”, which means dying to yourself. What I mean by “showing up for the race” is we need to confront anything in our lives that challenges our walk with God (the sin that entangle us). It is God who gives us the strength to conquer those obstacles, but He will not do it if we are not willing to confront them (show up). In the Old Testament, there are multiple examples of God providing the victory, but Israel having to show up for it to happen (read 2Chronicles chapters 14-20 to see what I mean).

Fixing our eyes on Jesus is the only way we can make it through the most challenging race (the race of life) and finish the race into eternal life. The Bible tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). I can think of no better reason to run the race than that.

God bless and have a great week

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