Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “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. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
The Apostle Paul in writing to the Hebrews uses the analogy of a race to the Christian life and look to the Finisher of their faith, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every believer has a race, a prescribed and predetermined course, picked by God set before them. It is not a race we chose but the one God planned. It is God’s race for us and not the human “rat race.” God did not set us in this race just to start but to finish it. At the end of our life we should be able to say like Jesus, “… I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do John 17:4,” and like the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith 2 Tim 4:7.” It is not enough to begin. Only those who finish their assignment are rewarded or promoted. That is why satan deceives and uses his wiles, devices, and weapons to get God’s children to forsake their assignment. Satan hates finishers. We will be tempted a thousand times to turn back or away. If we want to find an excuse to turn away from our calling, we can find a thousand exits. You may decide to quit but it is totally unnecessary. We have spiritual resources and wisdom from God that gives us the capacity to endure.
The Spirit of God through Paul gives us some of the wisdom that’s needed to be a finisher or to finish well in Hebrews 11:1-3:
- REMEMBER THE WITNESS OF THOSE WHO FINISHED THEIR RACE.
In Heb. 12:1 it starts out with the word “Wherefore” which comes after Hebrews chapter eleven that lists all those who by faith finished well. They weren’t perfect but the last thing written about their life was that they pleased God. We are surrounded by witnesses as opposed to spectators. Witnesses in a Biblical sense are there because they have a testimony of going through something themselves not like a spectator who watches others go through stuff. There’s nothing like the witness of someone who faced adversity, struggle, hardship and difficulty but came out victorious. If the Lord and their faith made a way for them, our faith in God will get us through too.
- REMOVE WHAT’S ON YOU THAT’S UNNECESSARY
We have to take some initiative “Let us” to remove weights and sins. Weights are entanglements, encumbrances, or anything that impedes progress (lit. swellings, tumors); things that swell and expand to take up our time and add unnecessary baggage. No one runs a marathon with baggage, luggage, heavy overcoats and clothing. Weights aren’t sins but are things we are free to pick up or put down but that unnecessarily burden us. It is having so many of these things that it exhausts us and can make us feel like quitting. Along with besetting sins, or sins that easily encircle, frequently occur that interrupt us and get us out of our race.
- RUN WITH ENDURANCE- HIS VICTORY IS BEHIND US AND HIS EXAMPLE IS BEFORE US.
We’re to run with endurance looking unto the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the originator and sustainer, the pioneer and perfector, the beginner and developer of our faith. Don’t look back, down, or at others but look unto Jesus. He made it and He knows how to help us make it. A marathon doesn’t require blinding speed but it does require endurance and making a steady effort to accomplish. Our culture fills us with unrealistic expectations of instant results, quick fixes, dramatic results with minimum investment but that’s not Bible or realistic. Just keep plodding along, the One who was at the start of our race is at the finish line. Keep going and keep focusing ahead.
- KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO NOT GOING THROUGH.
Follow the example of Jesus Who endured. Look away from everything else and consider Him that endured. Don’t consider how you feel, how things look, how others are doing but consider the One sent by God who endured. Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, disregarded the shame and made it to the end. Jesus knew the value of looking ahead to the joy set before Him. People who give up and quit tend to focus only on what they are GOING THROUGH but people who endure focus on what they are GOING TO. Some may be running out of gas because of where they are looking. We are to keep our eye on Jesus, off of others, and off of ourselves. The joy set before us is the fulfillment of God’s promise we are believing or finishing the work He gave us to do. Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof so keep your eyes on the end (Ecclesiastes 7:8).