Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us... (Hebrews 12:1)
We recently feasted upon a sermon from one of my favorite expository bible teachers, Dr. Gil Rugh, the Senior Pastor of Indian Hills Community Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. If you are not familiar with Indian Hills Community Church and Pastor Rugh's teaching/preaching ministry, I encourage you to visit their website at www.ihcc.org.
Gil's text this Sunday morning was Hebrews 12:1, where we are exhorted to run with endurance the marathon race of life set before us. We are reminded that living the Christian life is indeed a marathon and not a sprint. And, continuing the analogy, if we are going to win, we need endurance and self-discipline; Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Winning the Christian life marathon means pleasing the Lord who is our ultimate judge; And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) That by definition requires us to have enduring faith, the lack of which is the sin which so easily entangles us.
The writer of Hebrews also reminds us that we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us. It is God who sets the course of our life and everyone of us has a different course to run. Therefore, we are not competing against each other, but will be judged by how we live our lives with faith in Him; So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)
Let us therefore run the course set before us with endurance of faith, in His strength, laying aside every encumbrance, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith... (Hebrews 12:2) Maranatha!