It is an understatement to say that these are uncertain times in America. For evangelical Christ-followers who hold fast to biblical morality, there is a good likelihood that life will become much more difficult. There will be a cost to stay true to the teachings of the Bible. I believe Hebrews 12:1-3 gives us some practical advice about how to stay the course, i.e., live the life that God wants us to live.
Hebrews 12:1–3 (ESV) reads:
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
In order to squeeze out some practical guidance, I first outlined this passage into phrases by a technique known as “phrasing” or “structuring.” Second, I repeatedly read the text to answer the question “what do I see?” I asked a lot of questions of the text to answer the questions of “what does it mean?” Finally, I made an effort to apply the text to 21st Century believers in that I will answer the question “how does it work?”
The main command in the text is at the end of verse 1:
… let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…
The primary goal of the text is at the end of verse 3:
… so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
The text describes three ways to better run the race.
First, the text begins with the phrase:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, …
The “therefore” refers to the listing in Chapter 11 of those people who displayed great faith under pressure. The rest of the phrase means that we are to look their testimony (or witness) for encouragement because they are examples of great faith. Thus, the first way we can better run the race is to look to the faithful saints of old such as those in Hebrews 11.
Second, verse 1b gives us some pre-race guidance:
… let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, …
In the context of an athletic contest, the athlete must shed those extra pounds and change anything else that would hinder his or her performance. Likewise, the Christ-follower must get rid of every encumbrance or impediment and the sin that can impede one’s running of the race, i.e., living a life pleasing to God. The second way we can better run the race is to get ourselves in a great pre-race condition by getting rid of those things that hinder living a life pleasing to God. One commentator expands on getting ready for the race:
As Moses laid aside the prerogatives of royalty for the sake of his God-given mission, so we must throw off whatever may hinder faith even though it may be right for others. Joseph properly ruled in Egypt, but for Moses it was a hindering weight. Other weights might well be ambition, anxieties, hobbies, wealth or fame. Each runner must honestly judge what hinders faith for him or her and resolutely lay it aside, even though others seem to be unhindered by the same thing. One cannot run well in an overcoat!
Stedman, R. C. (1992). Hebrews. Westmont, IL: IVP Academic.
Third, verses 2-3a gives us Jesus-centered guidance about how we can better run the race. Verse 2 tells us to be “looking to Jesus” which means to keep constantly thinking about Jesus. In other words, Jesus should be the focus of our life.
We then learn some attributes about Jesus. Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” which means that Jesus is the source of our faith and He is the One who brings our faith to maturity. Because Jesus had in view the eternal-based joy of carrying our His mission on earth and then sitting at the right hand of the Father, He “endured the cross, despising the shame.”
Verse 3a tells us that we should “consider” Jesus who “endured from sinners such hostility against himself.” Verse 3a re-emphasizes what Verse 2a-b teaches in that we must look to Jesus as an example of One who suffered so much more than we will suffer.
The author of Hebrews gives us several ways to run the race of life so that we will “not grow weary or fainthearted.” These ways are as follows: (1) to look to the faithful saints of old such as those in Hebrews 11, (2) get rid of those things that hinder living a life pleasing to God; and (3) look to Jesus as an example of One who suffered so much more than we will suffer.
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. For Day 155, Hebrews 12:1-3 was the passage that stood out.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
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