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Running with endurance

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Pastor’s Pulpit

By Pastor Tom Davidson

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. The words used here mean to lay aside anything, any obstacle, and any obstruction that would hinder your running. Take it off! Strip down. Get rid of any sinful thought, action, habit, or relationship. Sin will trip you up and cause you to fall. Ancient track competition like today demanded intense practice. Olympic athletes had to swear that they had undergone ten months of rigorous training before competing. The last month had to be under the stern eye of an Olympic instructor. They disciplined themselves to remove unwanted body weight and when they competed they ran almost naked. We also need to remove anything in our lives that hinders our running. Since the writer uses a definite article “the sin” he seems to be referring to the specific sin(s) each of us, individually is most likely to commit. What is the sin that so easily entangles you or me? Is it that we’re jealous of what someone else has? Is it envy? It is a critical spirit? Is it hatred? Is it lust? Pride? Worry? Discouragement? Fear? Misplaced priorities? Whatever sin it is, it must be stripped off and left behind! The first thing we must do is to lay aside every hindrance.

Second, we must run with endurance. (v. 1b) “…let us run with endurance/ perseverance the race that is set before us.” The writer compares the Christian life to a foot race, but it’s a marathon not a sprint! The word “race” used here (agon) is the word we get our English word “agonize” from. As with any footrace it doesn’t matter how fast you start, if you don’t finish. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 the Apostle Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Third, we must shift our focus. (v.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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” We’re to deliberately lift our eyes from those things that might distract us and focus with utter concentration on Jesus. The word “looking” comes from a Greek word that has the idea of concentrating your gaze. It means to look away from other things so that you can focus all your attention on one object.

Fourth, we are to consider the Savior. (v. 3) “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” The last thing we’re going to do is “consider” our motivation. When we’re asked to “consider” Jesus in verse three it means to make a careful reckoning by comparing. The reader is asked to compare their suffering and hardships with His. The sufferings of Christ’s followers, however, severe they may be, are always incomparably light when weighted against the suffering of the Master Himself.

We talk about the weight of sin. We talk about the weight of our tongues. We talk about the weight of bitterness; jealousy; how we can find ourselves wishing God had made us differently. Envying others and the things they have, while being ungrateful for all God has given to us. The BIG question is “What things are important and what things are trivial?”

In most races awards are given for the top finishers. But here the prize is given to those who finish the race. Crossing the finish lines makes you a winner. And from the preceding chapter there is a great host of competitors of the faith who have already successfully finished the race. They’re cheering you on, encouraging on to victory. You can do it. Run freely; run focused; run to finish. God didn’t just send you to start this race. He didn’t just send you to begin a noble task or a noble relationship. God sent you both to start and to finish.

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