The Race Of Faith
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul often uses the Greek Olympic Games as analogies in his letters. One example is in the scripture above.
In verse 1, speaking to Christians, he says we are surrounded by ‘so great a cloud of witnesses’—like a stadium full of past believers, some of whom are listed in the previous chapter, Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, cheering us on to the finish, whose example encourages us not to give up.
Like runners who wear very little, and very light, clothing, we ‘lay aside every weight’, that is, anything that might slow us down in our race of faith.
We are warned to beware the ‘sin that so easily ensnares us’, the distractions from the cares of this world mentioned in Luke 21:34. And perhaps he is referring back to Hebrews 3:12 which speaks of “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” and warns in verse 19 “that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” The opposite of the faith in chapter 11.
We are to ‘run with patience’ as marathon runners who keep on till they finish, like disabled Clare Lomas, who finished the 2012 London Marathon sixteen days after it began!
In verse 2 ‘looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith’, on the other side of the finish line, cheering us on.
Who, ‘for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross’—that joy being the joy when we run and win, when we finish the race of faith and enter into eternal life. Our salvation gave our Saviour great joy, and made the cross not just a symbol of tragedy, but of triumph.
Jesus endured the shame of the cross, the penalty of shameful sin—our sin, for which he paid, becoming our High Priest and is now at the right hand of the throne of God waiting for us to finish our race of faith, the marathon of life.
Father in Heaven, help us to run our race of faith with courage, looking to the examples contained in your Word and with Jesus as our ‘pacer’ beside us.
Study by Nancy Silcox
Worldwide Church of God Watford
St. Peter’s Church
61 Westfield Avenue
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