The Pastor's Pen Image

“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.”  
(Hebrews 12:1) 
    The Christian life is described to us in a number of ways by the use of metaphors.  Believers in Christ are likened unto shining lights, branches of the vine, salt of the earth, sheep, soldiers, strangers and pilgrims.  In this particular text, the writer is using the metaphor of a runner running a race.  It is appropriate that this passage follows the chapter of men and women who had extraordinary faith.  Their faith was described as being, “in faith,” “by faith,” and “through faith.”  One would therefore conclude that faith is the most necessary principle to finish the race (of life) in victory and obtain the prize at the end.
   There are conditions in our lives that can prevent us from running the race with any measure of success at all.  There are weights that impede our progress because we become distracted by them and give more attention to them than we do to the finish line and the prize that is set before us (cf Philippians 3:14).  Also, there are besetting sins (sins that keep hanging around; unconquered sins) that certainly impair our vision and sap us of strength needed to run a successful race.  Unconfessed and unconquered sin is the nemesis of so many who start the race but never finish.  But, there are certain rules that we should adopt as a priority if we are serious about the race.  Let me share with you a few personal thoughts on this subject.
  1. There is a pattern to follow.  Hebrews 11 gives a list of past winners down through the ages.  There are familiar names and some not so familiar, but they all had one thing in common:  extraordinary faith that made each of them victors in their race.  We need to observe the lives and training procedures that make others successful.  This will encourage us and give us the assurance that the race can be run and has been run with great success.
  2. There is a preparation process.  This involves a training period wherein you must condition yourself spiritually.  Training is never easy, but it must be done.  We must lay aside every weight that is detrimental to success.  Unnecessary weights like worldly attractions and fleshy appetites cause great resistance in the Christian life.  Paul exhorted the believers at Colosse, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:8-9).  You must prepare for this race.  There is no such thing as “overtraining” in the spiritual realm.
  3.  There must be perseverance.  The writer of Hebrews says plainly, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  There is no room for quitters in this race.  As the old saying goes, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.”  Paul reminds us, “And let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  We all know those who call themselves Christians who have dropped out of the race.  They will never win the prize that could have been theirs.
    The Lord Jesus Christ sums it up with these words, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:62).
                                                                                                                                                     Pastor H. Preston Parker