The Christian life we live is likened to a long distance race rather than a sprint and the goal of this race is to spend eternity with Christ. The achieving of our goal comes through a process which begins by being redeemed through what Christ accomplished on the cross, and then to live a life of faith which wins over sin, Satan and the world.
The heroes of our faith (such as Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Samuel, Daniel, etc.) mentioned in Hebrews 11 bear testimony to the power of faith and the faithfulness of our God. These men and women give meaning to our struggle by helping us understand the dynamics of faith and what we can expect to encounter in our own personal race. The verses we are about to read give us instructions on how to prepare for, begin, succeed and finish our race.
1. LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD A racer has to lay aside everything of weight. (v 1)
a. We have to lay aside the following:
Things that weigh us down with cares.
Things that steal our time.
Things that take our focus off of what is really important.
2. DONT GET TRIPPED UP BY SIN. (vs 1, 4)
a. The picture presented is that of wild animals circling their prey.
b. We are surrounded by sin.
c. We must be careful and watchful. (1Pe 5:8; Jas 4:7; Prov 4:26; 2Co 7:1)
d. Striving against sin. (v 4)
Striving refers to face-to-face combat.
Sometimes it is difficult to fight against temptation.
Others have given their lives for their faith.
Sin will take you farther than you want to go, sin will cost you more than you want to pay, and sin will keep you longer than you want to stay (author unknown)
3. DONT DROP OUT OF THE RACE (run with endurance and perseverance) (v 1)
a. Run implies forward progress.
Are we growing and maturing in Christ?
A tree grows until it starts dying.
b. Run with endurance the race that is set before us. (Heb 10:36)
Hindrances to endurance:
- Weariness (Gal 6:9)
- Discouragement (fainting in our soul)
4. LOOK AT THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS TO SEE HOW TO RUN THE RACE. (vs 2-3)
a. Dont look at the other runners.
b. Dont look at distractions.
c. Do give your undivided attention to your coachthe savior of your soul.
He knows the hardships.
He knows the obstacles.
He knows how to finish the race well.
5. EXPECT CHALLENGES AND CORRECTION (vs 5-11). A coach corrects and disciplines the runners.
a. Two misconceptions about the discipline of the Lord:
Everything bad that happens is discipline from God
- We could be suffering from the consequences of past or present sin in our own life.
- We could be suffering just because we are a child of God and that angers the devil and the world.
- We could be suffering because God has given us a free will and we often misuse this privilege and make bad decisions.
Please remember: God is not the author of evil, all pain is not punishment from God, and all suffering is not proof of sin. Jesus was sinless, yet He suffered.
A loving God would not discipline the children that He loves.
- The Lord disciplines us because He loves us and wants us to be mature and productive in the Kingdom of God.
- Correction is necessary for spiritual growth. But we must submit to correction in order to see its benefits. (Prov 3:11-12)
b. Discipline is evidence
That we are saved and we are His children.
That God is working out holiness in our every-day life.
That God is working to prevent us from losing our race.
c. Cleansing can be accomplished
The gentle way (confess quickly) (1Jn 1:9)
The severe way (refuse to repent and harden our heart) (1Co 11:31-32)
6. BE A TEAM PLAYER (strengthening and helping others run their race). (vs 12-13)
a. Strengthen the weak. (v 12; 1Th 5:14; Isa 35:3)
b. Be gentle. (Gal 6:1; Tit 3:2)
c. Be an example with the purity of our own life. (v 13; Prov 4:27)
1. Is there some unnecessary busyness in my life that I need to lay aside?
2. What action will I take to free myself up to run the race with greater determination?