Hebrews 12: Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. CSB
Throughout the New Testament the Apostle Paul used many illustrations to help us better understand the Christian life. For instance, Paul sometimes refers to the Christian life as a fight. “I have fought a good fight…” (2 Tim 4:2) “I do not box as one beating the air.” (1 Cor 9:26 ESV.)
Paul also compared the Christian life to being a solider. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Tim 2:3) As children we used to sing the song-“I’m In the Lord’s Army.” That’s true. We are soldiers of the cross.
Though Paul used many illustrations and examples, perhaps his most favorite analogy was that of a runner in a race. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Cor 9:24) In today’s passage of scripture we see this analogy once again. “…run with endurance the race that lies before us…” the author tells us.
We should note that scripture tells us to ‘run with endurance.’ To endure means to – “bear up under the load.” Though the Christian life can sometimes be very joyful, it can also be very painful. Sometimes successful running is simply enduring the trial set before us.
Whenever I study this topic I think of the IRONMAN Triathlon. The slogan for this great test of endurance is – “Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles- BRAG FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.” (John Collins, IRONMAN Founder) Indeed anyone who finishes this grueling event has every right to feel good about their strength and endurance. But so does the Christian who faithfully runs their spiritual race.
The Christian life is a race and we’re all running for a heavenly prize. Paul tells us – “Everyone who competes in the games (Olympics, IRONMAN Triathlon, etc) goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor 9:25 NIV) The crown we will receive is not a trophy or having our picture on the front of the local newspaper. It’s the commendation from our Savior who says – “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”