Good morning my precious friends

Hebrews 12:1–2 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith”

Marathon runners know the challenge of enduring for 42 kilometres. The moment when their lungs are burning, joints are aching, and muscles are failing, they often feel greatly encouraged when the crowd cheers them on.

The Christian’s life is compared to a “race.” It begins at conversion and it ends when we get to heaven. Our life may be short (like a “hundred-meter race”), but mostly it is a long life (like a “marathon”). Running a race requires much discipline and endurance; the Christian’s “life of faith” is no different. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the Apostle Paul used the analogy of a race and the discipline we must have: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.”

The writer of Hebrews is writing to converted Jews and ultimately us, seeking to encourage them to endure the “trials of faith.”

In chapters 11 and 12, the author is developing the image of runners being cheered. He continues the list of heroes in the faith, including men and women who endured great danger and torture and “faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment” (ch11:36). Many were killed, often in gruesome ways. Others lived, but experienced poverty, persecution, mistreatment, and homelessness.

He mentions all these people, because “these were all commended for their faith,” even if “none of them received what had been promised” (ch11:39). These men and women of faith are “a great cloud of witnesses” (ch12:1) now surrounding us as we run our own race in life. They are cheering us on and encouraging us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance”.

The author encourages us to strip away anything that might prevent us from an abundant life and this could include an addiction, gossip, anger, lust, pride, wrong thinking habits, false guilt or shame, worry, bitterness and insecurity. These sins are like heavy burdens, weighing you down and affects our testimony, hinders our spiritual growth and can impact on our relationship with God, ourselves and others.

He tells us how strip away in verse 2

By keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

We do not run aimlessly. As in any race, we must look to the goal, and Scripture encourages us to run while “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and perfecter of faith”. Our focus is on Christ because He is the culmination of this “hall of faith,” the perfect example. In perfect faith, Christ “endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.

He is not just our model and source of faith; He is also the “perfecter” of faith, the One who brings it to completion. In Him alone, we are brought to the finish line of faith.

The Christian life involves focusing on our Lord Jesus and rejecting sin, which Scripture describes as an entangling hindrance. So ask God for the strength to throw them off and run with perseverance.

God’s desire is for believers to be as free as possible from ANYTHING that weighs us down from living the Christian life that best serves others and glorifies Him.  We must ‘throw off’ anything that might get in our way or ‘tangle us up.’ God does not want us trying to do this ‘throwing off’ in our own strength or by ourselves. He wants us to keep our eyes on His Son and to live by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This is how we run and finish the race of life well. This is how we rid ourselves of the sin that so easily entangles us.

When we keep our eyes on Jesus and we live by the Holy Spirit’s power, we won’t grow weary or become discouraged. We will persevere.

We become, with Jesus, more than we can be on our own.

The healthier we are in mind, body and spirit, the better able we will be to make a difference in the lives of others. The greater our witness will be. The more whole we are; the more opportunity we have to live a life that is attractive to others. We’ll be more likely to give of our time and talents to others who need it.  To others who desperately need to be touched by the love and grace and mercy of a powerful and personal God.

God wants to use us. He knows that if we’re carrying around extra ‘junk’ or ‘stuff’ that it will hinder us from being as useful as possible in our service to others and to Him.

So, if we’re serious about our relationship with God, and want to be used by Him in an even greater way, I encourage us to get on our knees, and humbly ask Him, “Father God, what ‘weight’ do You want to strip from me?”

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus help us to keep our eyes focused on You, and know how important it is to realize that no matter what we suffer here, even though it’s not as severe as what You endured, there will be a day when we will be enthroned in glory and receive that eternal reward. We desire with joy to run our race in a way that would be consistent with those who have run before us. Thank You for being the perfecter and finisher of our faith.  We worship You Lord. Amen.

Much love from Maurice and Margaret