Advice For Running The Racing
Title: Advise About Running The Race.
Text: Hebrews 12:1-4.
CIT: Enduring the race to the end.
Theme: Advise about how to endure and
complete the race.
This week in Vacation Bible School we have been talking about heroes. More specifically, Bible heroes. In our Bible verses, the author uses running a race to illustrate the Christian walk.
The race written about in Hebrews 12 is like the old Olympic games, it is an invitational race. To be involved in the races you had to be a citizen of the country. The race before us this morning involves Christians. I think it is important to say right here that if you are not a Christian, if you have not repented and asked God to forgive you, if you have not asked Christ into your life, you are not invited to participate in this race. You cannot compete. Having Christ is the only way to enter this race, having Christ is the only way to heaven, there is no other.
To the author, becoming a Christian meant entering an arena and signing up for the Marathon race. I want you to notice that this is not a hundred yard dash or even the quarter mile race, this is a Marathon. It amazes me that many Christians think they have signed up for hop-scotch, but in fact, we are in a race where there is pain, heartache, sickness, sorrow, pressure, hardship, and even death. When we run this race, we run it against tough competition that puts our faith to the ultimate test.
If we are to be victorious in this race, we need both encouragement and endurance. Within the first three verses of Hebrews 12, we find a coach trying to do four things. First, he is encourages us to run the race. Second, he warns us about entanglements which hinders our running. Third, he encourages us to endure to the end and last, he gives us an example to help us. Let’s look at what he is trying to tell the Hebrews and us. First, we find
I. Encouragement For Running the Race.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us . . .
What a great motivation we have for running the race. The grandstands are filled with spectators, each one a runner of the race which has endured and won the race as found in Hebrews 11. They each wear the laurels of victory. Each one has been there and done it. From out of the past they cheer us as we stand at the starting line, or as we are pressing forward down the track. I always got excited when the crowd showed up and began to cheer the teams on. This is exactly what we have here. This great crowd of spectators are cheering us on with their example. What an encouragement to run. Then, he warns us about:
II. Entanglements in Running the Race.
Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.
The first thing we are to do is lay aside everything and anything that might weigh us down and keep us from running well. For a runner, that might be a heavy pair of sweats or even the wrong shoes. For the Christian it is anything that slows the pace or progress of our faith. It might be an indifferent attitude, a lack of spiritual discipline, a lack of Bible study, a poor prayer life, or something else that we need to pack up and get rid of.
The second bit of advice he gives us here is to “shed the sin which so easily entangles us.” The context of Hebrews 11 and 12 suggests that this sin is the sin of unbelief. Better, it is a lack of assurance. This particular sin affects us like a cramp in the leg, causing us to break our stride or hobble off the course all together. When we get to the point of not believing God can handle the situation and relying on Him, you are down on the track with spiritual cramps. As Paul would say, we need to “girt up our loins” and get rid of the things which would hinder you from running.
Third, the coach wants to encourage us to:
III. Endure In Running the Race.
The author tells us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The word “endurance” here means “patience.” This is not a kind of patience that sits down and accepts things but the patience which masters them. It is a determination which goes on steadily and refuses to be deflected or defeated irregardless of the handicaps, the condition of the track, the obstacles in our path, or how bad the weather. It is steadfast endurance that decides not to quit. I like the little jingle the kids sang this week because it describes this patience perfectly:
Run, run, run the race,
Keep, keep, keep, the pace,
Run the race, keep the pace,
Keep your eyes on Jesus.
The author also warns us that the Christian life is not a game of tag or jacks. It is a hard fought, tough-minded race. The word “race” in these verses is from the Greek term “agona” from which we get our word “agony.” The author is picturing athletes in an agonizing footrace cheered on by the faithful example of the heroes of past generations. What an incentive to run the race well and finish. The coach encourages us to run the race to the finish. Last, the author gives us the perfect:
IV. Example for Running the Race.
The first word of verse 2 means “to look away from all else and fix one’s gaze upon.” Who is the One upon which we are have this intense, continual
focus? Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
As runners in the race, we must look away from the distractions on either side, we must not look backwards, and we must set our sights on the finish line where stands our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Jesus ran the race with endurance and triumphed. He endured the Cross; He suffered shame; but in the end He crossed the finish line to sit down at the right hand of God the Father. He is our example.
There is one more thing I want us to consider and that is mental attitude. Mental attitude is important if a runner is going to hang tough and fight off fatigue and frustration to finish a Marathon race. In verse three he tells us to “consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”
The word “consider” means “to reckon, compare, think over.” The point here is that we are to so fix our eyes on Jesus that our minds block out any distractions. As we meditate on the grueling race Jesus ran, with all the catcalls, the spittle, the insults, the plucking of the beard from the crowd, we are to be strengthened and get a fresh touch from the Spirit of God for our faltering legs of faith. We can’t help but want to follow Him on to victory.
Folks, there is a race going on. This race is an invitational, only those who have Jesus Christ as their Savior are invited. I want you to know this morning that Jesus is inviting you to become a Christian. He invites you to repent of your sin and ask God to forgive you and God will. He is inviting you to invite Jesus into your life and He will come in and give you life.
Christian, when it comes to the race of faith, are you breezing along with the wind at your back, or are you limping along the sidelines with a charlie-horse? If you feel like giving up more than pressing on, I want to give you a couple of pointers which will help you:
First, claim the grace to persevere. When the wind is in your face, when your legs wobble beneath you, when the crowd boos your efforts, call out to God for the grace of a second wind.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power,
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And the vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles
They will walk and not become weary.
Second, Remember you are never alone. Nothing will dampen your spirits and cut your stride like feeling alone and that nobody’s ever run this race before. We are never alone. The Lord is running this race with you guiding our way. He has given you encouragement from those who have went before and have shared in your experiences.
Don’t lose hope. With every painful step you take, your muscles of faith are becoming stronger, with every wheezing breath, you are drawing closer to the finish line and final victory in Jesus.
In a moment we are going to sing a song of invitation. It is God’s invitation for you to become a Christian by turning from your sin and receive Christ. I want to invite you to come this morning doing just that.
It is an invitation for Christians who are on the sidelines, who have quit running, to get your eyes back on Jesus and get back into the race.
It is for Christians who want to join this fellowship of believers to get support and give support in running the race before us.
It is for you to come and follow the Lord in Baptism. That might be one of the entanglements which keeps you from running the race God wants you to run. It is a matter of obedience, discipleship. Won’t you come.
Myron Baptist Church 1/31/99
FBC, Hughes, 6/24/07