Olympians, especially from swimming and track and field, have known to win at their races, it’s not enough to just train and discipline yourself in the typical ways athletes are accustomed too, but even to scrutinize what you wear, what kind of shoes you have, and even the kind of laces used in those shoes! All of this can shave precious seconds and half-seconds off of a race.
How are you running your race today? Did you know you were even in a race? Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that not only are we in a race, but this passage also provides valuable coaching on how to run this race well:
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, (NASB)
As I look at Hebrews 12:1, I see three things worth pondering to help us run our race in a more effective manner.
- The Christian life is a “race,” and so in other words, it’s not a stroll, or a long endless party where nothing ever goes wrong, or even what seems the prevailing view with many today, a mere hobby! The original word used here for “race” is agon stressing a contest, a struggle, and from which we get our English word “agony.” And as with all races, whether a 100-yard dash or a marathon, it has a goal – the finish line we are racing towards.
- How should we run this race? According to this verse, with “endurance” or as the translation above states, “perseverance.” Regardless of the translation, the original word suggests running this race while “remaining under,” or in other words, “patiently” staying the course, moving every minute towards the finish line, no matter what challenges we may encounter. So think of it this way, we should be getting stronger and more determined as the race continues.
- Lastly, to run in such a manner, and to reach the finish line, we are to “toss aside” or a more forceful way to express the Greek word is really to intentionally “throw off” two things (and based on the grammatical construction, only we can to do this!): any “weight” that would slow us down, and “the sin which easily entangles us.”
That last point is so pivotal, we’ll cover it in another blog. But for now, ponder these questions:
- How’s your race going? Are you picking up speed, keeping your eyes ‘locked-in’ on the finish line, or, have you fallen, either by being “tripped” or stumbling over your own two feet?
- In preparation for our next discussion on this passage, begin thinking about what is “weighing” you down, and “the sin” which you just can’t seem to shake off.
I’ll close with this encouragement from noted author Paul David Tripp for those who may have forgotten why we’re even in this race:
“We forget that God’s primary goal is not changing our situations or relationships so that we can be happy, but changing us through our situations and relationships so that we will be holy.”
Until next time, stay strong, and keep running!