Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The moment you surrendered your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, and made Him your Savior, you entered into the great race of faith. It is a spiritual race we are to run until we reach the finish line at the end of our lives and see Jesus face to face. It is a race that is defined by endurance, faith and victory. Are you running that race well? Or have you become fatigued, distracted, or even feel like quitting the race all together? If that is the case you are not alone. There will be seasons in your life where you are going to get tired spiritually and feel like going back to the life of sin Jesus has delivered you from. There are going to be seasons where you feel like giving up on your ministry, marriage, and your faith. Don’t do it! We cannot win this race of faith in our own strength. The Bible declares in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong…” We are to rely on the strength and power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Without Him we will never make it to the finish line. Apart from relying on the Holy Spirit helping us, there are some practical things that we are responsible for as well to ensure we run a race of victory.
Laying Aside the Weight
Hebrews 11:1 instructs us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let’s take a close look at some of that weight and sin in our lives.
- Returning to the sins of your past.
Going back to the sins Jesus delivered you from will keep you from running the race successfully. Do you find yourself tempted into going back into alcoholism, outbursts of anger, sexual immorality and foul language, for example? Jesus declared, “He who the Son sets free is free indeed.” Don’t return to the sins that once held you in bondage like a dog returns to his own vomit. Repent and turn from those things. The blood of Jesus has cleansed you and redeemed you from your old life. You are a new creation. Your old self has been crucified with Christ. Walk in the newness of life Jesus purchased for you by His death and resurrection. Sin no longer has dominion over you.
“As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11
One of the enemy’s primary tactics to ensnare us in the race of faith is to distract us from the purpose and plan of God for our lives. He distracts us by the cares of this world. He wants us to focus on natural things and his desire for us is for us to keep living in the realm of fear, unbelief and worry. He doesn’t want us to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Another way he distracts us is through toxic relationships. Are you fellowshipping with people that are drawing you away from God? Are your friends helping you get closer to Jesus or influencing you to go astray.
“Do not be deceived: “Evil Company corrupts good habits.” I Corinthians 15:33
- Disconnecting from other believers.
When you disconnect from your community of faith you become vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy. It is a dangerous place to be. Isolation breeds apathy to the things of God. Wolves never attack a flock of sheep because there is safety in numbers and their shepherd is there to protect them from danger. Wolves attack when one sheep goes astray and they are left vulnerable and defenseless. Stay connected and you will have encouragement from others to finish your race.
“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:25
Running the Race with Endurance
We are going to face hardships, setbacks, fatigue and temptations along this race, but we are to run with endurance. We endure by keeping our eyes on Jesus: the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is our example of endurance. Hebrews 11:2 tells us that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. What was the joy set before him? You and me. He saw us beyond the cross. Although He knew He was going to suffer on the cross and die, He endured because His eyes were set on you and your salvation. We, in like manner, are to endure because our eyes and love are set on Him. Jesus is the source of our strength and ability to succeed. He is the only One that can help us finish the race of faith.
Finish the Race
I don’t know about you, but when I’m lying on my death bed surrounded by my family, I want to be able to look into their eyes and utter with confidence the same words the Apostle Paul uttered at the end of his life,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2Timothy 4:7