Run with endurance the race that is set before us
Hebrews 11:32-12:13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.
39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.
12 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. 11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
Chapter 12 in today’s text begins saying: 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, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. There is quite a bit in these 2 verses which we can apply to our lives. The writer uses the illustration of our life’s journey being like a race. The world also often portrays life that way. In the world’s race individuals race against each other to see who can be first. Businesses compete against each other to see who can be number one. Even nations race against each other. In the races of the world, the prize is money and power. The race is to see who gets the prize. For us, as believers, our race is different. Matthew 6:24 says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” If we race as the world does, seeking money as the prize, we cannot win the race we run for God. The prize we run for is Jesus. It is Christ likeness. Romans 8:28-29 says: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren. All the things that happen in our lives, as we run with endurance, are used for the purpose of conforming us to the image of Christ. Regardless of how difficult our situation and circumstances may be, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the prize, the author and perfecter of our faith. James 1:2-4 says: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. When we remain fixed on Jesus in the midst of our various trials our faith is perfected. It is not critical that we have a great amount of faith. Jesus said with faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains and uproot trees. The size of our faith is not nearly as important as the object of our faith. As we run this race called life, we will be perfected, conformed to the image of Christ, as long as He is the object of our faith, the prize we are fixed on. We don’t run against others, we all run for the same prize. Some have finished the race ahead of us, others are just beginning. Some are running with us and others will begin after we have finished. This is one race when truly everyone who runs gets a trophy.
The writer says: Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us. There will be many obstacles in our way, various trials to endure, many things which are beyond our control. But sin is something we are to lay aside. Sin is not an obstacle beyond our control. It is an entanglement we choose. When we first choose sin, it hardly seems to affect our ability to run the race. It may seem as a small thread on our foot. The longer we run in sin, the more entangled we become. Eventually, not only are we hindered, but we are so entangled that we can no longer see the prize. We lose our way. We become lost. Sin separates us from Jesus. We can no longer see Him when we are entangled in sin. In Matthew 14 there is an encouraging account for us, if we have lost sight of Jesus. The disciples are out in the middle of a lake in a boat and there is a storm. Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. Verses 27-32 say: Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. The encouragement for us, in the account is that even when Peter had lost sight of Jesus, Jesus never lost sight of him. Peter was so encumbered by doubt that he could no longer remain fixed on the perfecter of his faith. Yet when he cried out, Lord save me, immediately Jesus did. When we have lost our way, when we can no longer see Jesus, we need simply to cry out to Him. He never leaves us, even when we can’t see Him. Repentance removes the entanglement of sin so that we can again see the prize.
The text says: You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin. The good news is that we don’t need to. Jesus did it for us. All we need is to keep our eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of; the object of our faith, the prize, the one who saves us.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You that You never lose sight of me, even if I have become lost and entangled in sin. All I need is to cry out Lord save me and immediately You take my hand. Holy Spirit be my guide, direct my path as I run the race so that I might never again lose sight of the prize. Give me the confidence of knowing that it is not the size of my faith that matters, but rather the object of my faith. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Amen.