Hebrews 12:1-2 – “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.” NASB
The writer, in this passage, was writing to a group of Jewish Christians. They were discovering that their new life was not a life of ease. They have found this new way most difficult and filled with persecution and drama. They have, apparently, grown discouraged, and some have begun to think that their conversion was a mistake. It seems that some were wondering if possibly they should renounce their Christian faith as sheer futility and return to their old way of Judaism.
This letter was a letter to encourage them. Here the writer reminded them that God is LORD of All. He reminded them that the death of Jesus was not in vain. He urged them to hold fast to their profession of faith and warned against falling short of the Grace of God. He then called to the witness stand those patriarchs from the previous chapter to testify of the value, strength, beauty, and power of faith. His encouragement was, “Do not lose heart or courage! Lay aside every weight and run with patience the race that is set before you.” He gave them some helpful, insightful, and definitive instructions for living the Christian Life at any time and in any place.
He began a treatise and discourse on How the Father through Jesus and the Holy Spirit could make their lives count. Let’s consider some of his instructions.
His first directive was, “Let us Run.” Simple right? Hardly and just saying that is insufficient to convey the message. His message revealed the truth that the Christian walk is a strenuous life. It is exacting and is certainly not a game. He makes no appeal to cowardice or slothfulness and he avoids and evades no issue. All is on the table in his discussion with these believers.
He warned them that being a Christian means there will be Conflict. There will be both an inner and outer struggle. Being a Christian means Growth and Maturity. It requires daily involvement and investment. It demands accountability for actions. It requires obedience but God has provided both the armament and tools with which we can survive and thrive.
He reminds them and us that we are in a war, but it is a spiritual war, not a flesh war. Jesus said, in Matthew 7:14, “Straight is the gate and narrow the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.” Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
Jesus said that we were to “strive to enter…” That is an interesting choice of words. The word strive conveys the idea of struggle and is a very muscular word, not a soft effeminate one. It is active not passive. This Christian way is difficult but if we take His Yoke on us it becomes easy because we are going in His Strength and His Power, not ours.
The directive or challenge is, “Let us Run!” Let us give it all we have. Let us be ready for the marathon rather than the sprint. Let’s run with the finish line in mind, not the starting gate. I want to address this a bit more so we will pick up here in the next devotional and consider How we are to Run this Race.
May God bless you richly as you run today’s leg of your spiritual race. Have a fantastic day!