Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV
It’s Day 7 of our 26-day #Encourage Marathon! One week down! (You can read yesterday’s post here.)
Someone out there is running sluggishly, ready to give up. It might even be you.
The first three verses of Hebrews 12 is a continuation of Hebrews 11, which listed some of those whom I affectionately call the “heroes of faith.” They are witnesses of the power of faith, obedience and endurance. A form of the word ‘endure’ is used 3 times in the first 3 verses of this text. Repetition of a word is a literary device used to emphasize a concept. The author is saying, in effect, “don’t be sluggish, don’t get tired—ENDURE.”
The Hebrew writer encourages us to do three things in this passage to successfully run our race:
Ditch the baggage.
Would you run farther with a heavy backpack or without? Would you run faster with extra weight or without?
While carrying weight for training can increase your strength, it will also wear you out more rapidly. I’m not really a marathon watcher, but I believe that the most I’ve seen those runners carrying are a bottle of water and maybe a phone. Sometimes they have a small fanny pack or belt to hold water/food/etcetera. The water keeps them hydrated, the phone gives them music to keep their mind off the pain. Beyond that, they’re dressed lightly and carrying nothing else. Why? So they can endure to the end of the race. Every additional weight is a liability.
Run your race with God in the same way. Get rid of the sin that wants to hang on. Detach yourself from the physical allurements of life. If we keep trying to take it all with us, we won’t make it.
Take time to read Hebrews 11 and take note of who is named:
- Enoch – walked with God for 300 years (Genesis 5.22-24). It’s hard enough for most of us to do 30-60 years!
- Noah – built the ark, preached for 100 years.
- Moses – put up with the Israelites for God’s sake.
- Joseph – taken as a slave, thrown in prison and still served faithfully
- Abraham – left everything He knew based on Gods promises and waited two decades to see the promise of offspring.
Also notice how/what they endured in verses 33-38:
- stopped the mouths of lions (Daniel)
- quenched the power of fire (Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego)
- escaped the edge of the sword
- made strong out of weakness
- put foreign armies to flight (Gideon, David)
- sawn in two
- killed with the sword
- Went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated… wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (most of the prophets including John the Baptist)
Look at the example.
Jesus is the ultimate example of endurance. The passage says, “[Jesus] for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame…” I posted about joy being a good motivator on day 4. Jesus knew that there was coming joy, and for it and for us he endured.
Many who teach and speak about acquiring wealth or achieving success often say that the best way to succeed (in whatever goal you pursue) is to read about, listen to, and/or observe those who have succeeded. These examples are not just motivators, but demonstrators. You see how they achieved success and you are thereby able to emulate their behaviors and choices in the hopes that you also will succeed.
Our goal is heaven (and to bring as many with us as possible). Since Jesus achieved His aims with glorious success, He is the ultimate example. Many of the “heroes” listed above were good examples, but they had their shortcomings. Jesus showed neither foible nor failure. He lived life flawlessly. In our race, let’s commit his example to our mind as we run so that we do not grow weary.
Don’t slouch your way through this race. Run it with endurance. And while you’re running, encourage others to do likewise.
I hope you’ll continue to join me on Facebook, Twitter and here at Elihu’s Corner for this marathon. Share this verse on your Twitter feed or Facebook page (#encourage). Take time today to copy down this verse for yourself. Send an email or text to someone you know who would benefit from this encouragement.
I’m a little behind on my passage-copying, but I have some time set aside this afternoon to get caught up. I cannot encourage you enough to write down these verses. Studies have shown that the physical act of writing increases retention far more than typing or reading.
[If you click on the link in the above passage, it will take you to BibleGateway.com. From here, you can click a share link which allows you to share directly to Twitter, Facebook or send an email.]