On Tuesday we looked at the first part of this verse: “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” and I encouraged you to look at the old testament believers to encourage us to press on in our walk with God.
The rest of the verse shows us how their example inspires us:
Firstly, we see that the Christian life is not a 100 metre sprint, but a marathon. The last part of the verse says: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” We have a purpose – to run towards the prize of glory. But it is also a long race; we need to run with endurance. The heroes in Hebrews 11 pressed on through discouragement, opposition and time.
Secondly, there are going to be distractions: “let us also lay aside every weight.” This is not physical weight (although I am sure I would benefit from laying aside some of my physical weight), but anything at all that makes it harder for us to run, especially if these things become our focus. Families are a gift from God, but if they become more important than Him, then we won’t run the race. Relaxing and resting are important, but if we love our movies or reading or painting or sewing more than Him, they distract us and we don’t run as we need to run.
Thirdly, there is “sin which clings so closely.” We are saved by grace alone, but sin makes us weak and ineffective and it draws us away from fellowship with God, and grieves the Holy Spirit who empowers us to run the race.
Brothers and sisters, the race of life as a Christian is long and it is hard, and we get weary. But let’s listen to the voices of those that have gone before us. Let’s listen to Noah who built for God in a world of darkness. Let’s listen to Abraham who waited and waited but believed God. Let’s listen to Moses who chose to be mistreated along with God’s people rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. Let’s listen to Jacob, who blessed his grandchildren in faith even though he wouldn’t see the outcome of his prayer. Let’s listen to Rahab, who chose to stand alone and help God’s people even though everyone else in her city rejected Him.
And let’s remember the great promises of God, like this one: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31).