Hebrews 12:1-2 says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and w sin which clings so closely, and x let us run y with endurance the race that is z set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, a who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising b the shame, and c is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
A couple things that jumped out at me in this passage…
- We are surrounded by witnesses – people are watching our lives closely. Our witness for Jesus must come out of credible lives that match up with what we are supposed to believe
- Let us lay aside every weight – Recently, I’ve started running. I’m not great at it, but I have really liked the exercise and I spend time with Mel outdoors which is always nice. But I can’t imagine running while carrying a weight. There are a few things that I can see that can qualify as “weights” – they will slow us down and keep us from running well –
- Sins – Paul speaks directly about this in this passage – we must drop them — repent them & confess them to God and keep running. 1 John 1:9
- Idols – Ez 14:1-5 is an amazing passage on idolatry. It essentially says if we are holding things above God in our hearts, when we come to God the only thing he will want to deal with first is the idols that we are carrying in our arms. This is the basics of sin – loving something more than you love God. Cast it aside, keep running
- Our Past – this is a biggie. In Phil 3:12-14 speaks of “forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead” he is thinking a race. Are we going to be effective runners if we are dwelling about all the hard miles that we have already run and how hard they were? We can’t. As Driscoll said recently – eyes forward, both hands on the plow, one foot in front of the other – looking forward, don’t look back. Look at those milestones as achievements that you have passed thru God’s strength and his grace.
- Run with endurance – again, not a sprint but a marathon – pace yourselves and keep your eyes on Jesus (v2). It requires effort, as Chandler says – “grace driven effort” God supplies the grace, we supply the effort.
- The race set before us – God in his amazing sovereignty has set us all a race course to follow in our lives. We are following the race that he set before us – he died so that we can follow him, not so that he can follow us. Ryan Baitzel, one of my favorites, said so appropriately “who is following who?” We sometimes really get this messed up. We don’t invite Jesus into our lives – we say “Jesus, here is my life.” We entrust our life to him, we follow him, wherever the race course is going we follow.
But what about God’s will? We can get really hung up on “knowing God’s will.” We abruptly rush into the presence of a Holy God and demand to know “His will” – His will starts with our sanctification – becoming more like Jesus in every step of this race – THEN we will be able to discern the course of our heart (Prov 16:9). We want so badly to know where we are supposed to run, but yet God wants so badly us to know Him and then He will tell us where to run.
Let us seek God with our whole hearts, ALL of our lives, and with endurance as we run this race. Let us run without sin, idols, or our past weighing us down. Let us instead look at Jesus – who has reconciled us to God and given us our identity – chosen, holy and dearly loved. (Col 3:12) Let us follow the course that God has laid out for us and not try to direct the Sovereign God in how he runs our lives. Most of all, let us treasure Christ as preeminent in our lives and strive to know Him and LOVE HIM more deeply, then we will be able to discern the course that has been laid out before us.
Maybe we are living with disappointment in what we perceive to be the course he has laid out for us. The Bible is pretty clear – love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and seek to KNOW Him thru how he has revealed himself to us – the Bible, his Holy Spirit. Focus on knowing and loving your Savior Jesus, THEN you will be able to see the race much differently.
A little earlier in Philippians, Paul says this:
9 And it is my prayer that q your love may abound more and more, r with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, s and so be pure and blameless t for the day of Christ,