“The All-Important Race”

Hebrews 12

1 Wherefore 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.

We are all in this spiritual race. In athletics, there are different races, some only 100m and others long distance. In our spiritual life we also run races of different lengths. Some have a short life and they only run a short race, whereas there are others who run long distance, their life being 80 years or more. But each one must run the race to win, with all their might, looking towards the goal who is Jesus Himself.

Some run to impress their friends, while with others it is clear they run to win. It is wonderful to meet a Christian who is running to win. One thing which stands out is his zeal and love for the Lord, even when he is alone. Others might become idle and give the devil a place to enter when alone, but there is none of that in one who is on fire for the Lord. Spurgeon once said that an idle and lazy person tempts the devil to tempt them.

When we are in heaven will we feel at home or out of place when we sit next to the saints (the “cloud of witnesses)? Will we be able to conduct a conversation with them when they speak about their life experience and their zeal for the Lord?

Is your focus on the Lord Jesus, the “author and finisher” of your faith? Is that the first thing that you do in the morning, to focus your eyes on Him? Right through the day are you continually re-adjusting your focus so that your eyes remain fixed on Him? When you go to bed at night is that also your concern to have your eyes fixed on Him? If your eyes are not fixed on Him you will become disturbed and lose your peace when things go difficult or not as planned.

We must run the race set before us. This race is not my race, but the race set before us by the Lord. God set the race before us to run. God has a plan with each of us and each one must fulfill the call of God for his life. A person running his own race will be disqualified.

Run according to God’s plan and blueprint for your life. If you run the 400m and half-way you stop and wonder whether you’re running the correct race you will never win your race.

You need to hear from God what His will is for your life and run His race set before you. You might even be among God’s people but only idle along, watching the others run the race God has set before them.

If you really run the race God has set before you, you won’t have time for self-pity, wondering whether people care for you, whether God cares for you and always feeling lonely.

As we run the race (the race God has set before them), we need to watch out for things that will hinder us. These things are the day to day concerns, “what will I eat, what will I wear etc.” They hold us up – they are dead weight. That’s why our Lord says “cast your burdens upon Me”. He will carry those concerns for us while we run His race.

As we run the race we must also break ruthlessly with the sin which entangles us and breaks our relationship with the Lord. It also breaks relationships with others, it alienates family members, separates friends and destroys marriages.

Only Christ has the remedy for the disastrous effects of sin on people and their relationships. So you cannot run your spiritual race with sin. If you don’t get out of it, it will only become an ever-wider web. It stifles and kills your spiritual life. You will only be able to run freely if you break with it ruthlessly.

We also need to run with endurance, like an athlete who exercises his body daily. So we as Christians need to exercise spiritually.

In our days bodily exercise is emphasized. But how much time do you spend to make your spiritual body strong? How is your soul faring? Is it well with your soul?

To run with endurance spiritually you need exercise, every day.

How do we exercise our souls? There are many ways, but one example we find in 1 Tim 4:6-9

1 Timothy 4

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

Are you prepared to receive chastisement and correction to exercise you unto godliness? So we need to be exercised daily, disciplined unto godliness.

1 Timothy 6

3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,

4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.

People not conforming to godliness are always suspicious about their fellow Christian.

The Bible also speaks of those who have exercised their senses to discern both good and evil. It is hard work. Many people are simply too lazy, for it exerts them.

When we come to the end of the day and lay down our heads, may we do so knowing that God was with us. May we experience the Christian life as God meant it to be.