Sources: Ligonier.org, https://www.focusonthefamily.com, Macarthur Hebrews Commentary
Run For Your Life
Hebrews 12:1-2 wrong
1Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lay Aside every weight
4 Laps. 1 Race. 1 chance to go to the CIF southern section. I vividly remember that day. A few years of intense training. The race was the 1600m district Final. The best 7 runners in 5 high schools for the mile race; slightly less than a mile which is 1607m. The gun went off. Top 3 runners make it. Lap after lap went by fast. Last 100m- I can see the finish line. It looks like I’m going to make it. 50m- I get passed but am still making it in 3rd place. At the line- confusion. The race was so close I had to lean my chest forward to increase my chances of placing; that’s how they measure it; by the chest. Miraculously, I was passed at the line and lost by one tenth of a second. 4th place. So close, but no cigar.
I write this not because I want to tell you about my race but because I think it’s a good way of thinking how we should run the race of faith. MacArthur points out that there are those who haven’t entered; unbelievers that need to get into the race. What a blessing it can be to evangelize and take people with us on this race of faith! It takes love. It takes care. Ultimately, it takes God to give them grace through faith to believe. We can love others by encouraging people to race the race with us. Sometimes that requires running at their pace so they can catch up. But it’s worth it because true love understands and slows down so others can get to where you are. I’m not saying pursue Christ less, but I am saying doing the basics with someone can be a blessing to someone who doesn’t know much at all.
Christians are running the race, but at different paces. There is a wide spectrum of Christians who compete with intensity and those who are merely jogging. So it goes with running cross country and track. The guys that didn’t care were on the team but didn’t really seem to care about doing well; they ended up kind of coasting through the year with no progress. And then there were those on the team who I looked up to. The runners who would run even on the weekends because they wanted to do well. Running is agonizing. Interestingly, the Greek word is the passage for race is agon from which we get agony. The race set before us is going to be tough. It’ll require discipline, perseverance, tenacity, and commitment. But ultimately, to run well, you need love. The love that is mentioned as the first of the fruits in Galatians:5. The love that is greater than faith and hope in 1 Corinthians 13:13. “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s the love quoted from Deuteronomy:6 in the shema that contains the Greatest commandments: Love your God and Love your neighbor. Are we running the race with an intensity that puts aside every weight (sin) and loves others that emulates the love of Christ who died for us? He died for sinners. People who had no hope, and no faith. In the same way, we can die to ourself and exhibit the agape sacrificial love that puts our desires last and other people’s needs first. It’s a love that can only come from God. God is love. The true test of a Christian is one who loves others.
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:4-6)
Race well. Strive well. Bring others with you. Run to win the Prize. Running well requires love. A sacrificial love that only God can implant in your heart. The gun has fired. We are rounding the corner and the finish line is in sight. Finish well by loving well in light of the hope set before us. See you at the finish line.