Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1-2
We are going to run, not because of the prize at the end and not because so many illustrious saints have run the course in the past and have been gloriously crowned, but because the vision of Jesus thrills the soul. John Phillips
by Cynthia Heald
I visited with a friend who had just completed her first half marathon. She recounted how it had taken her months to be able to run even one mile, but because of her strong desire to accomplish her goal, she succeeded. The discipline and diligence it took were worth the reward of crossing the finish line and receiving hugs and congratulations.
The author of Hebrews illustrated our life of faith as a race, one that is to be run freely and steadfastly. Setting our hearts to run with endurance is all-important as we seek to live faithfully. Lawrence Richards defines perseverance this way: “Perseverance is overcoming difficulties: it is facing pressures and trials that call for a steadfast commitment to doing right and maintaining a godly life.”[i]
As a young captive in Babylon, Daniel was one of the faithful witnesses who, when faced with trials, was steadfastly committed to doing right. In the book of Daniel we learn, “But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king.” To follow the Lord’s law, Daniel proposed a ten-day special diet—and it was so successful that he and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the other young men. Consequently he and his friends were exempt from the king’s diet (Daniel 1:8-16). Even in the midst of challenging circumstances, Daniel was determined to run his race faithfully.
Exploring the Word
Perseverance means steadily advancing because the goal is worth the effort. Such perseverance requires dedication to keep going despite obstacles that could hinder progress. What do you learn in these verses about the importance of perseverance?
Learning to Live Faithfully
We really do not need to be reminded that we are in a race. Our lives seem to be filled not just with running but also with periodic hurdles placed on our path along the way. The reality is that we are in a spiritual race, one prescribed by God. Let us run on his appointed path with the training manual he has provided.
This race is an age-old race run by a great cloud of faithful witnesses who have gone before us. They have run their course, overcome, and triumphed. Witness does not mean spectator. Heroes like Daniel bear witness to the sufficiency of the Lord because he equipped them to run the race faithfully.
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to strip off every weight that slows us down. A weight is anything that can impede our progress. Weights are not necessarily sin; in fact, they are usually legitimate things that take the edge off of running well. Consider busyness, for example. Oswald Chambers reminds us that “it is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keep us back from God’s best.”[ii]
This passage compares sin is to a piece of clothing that could wind itself around our leg, entangle us, and cause us to trip. We must strip off these entanglements if we want to run our race well. And because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we have the power to throw off sin.
Running with endurance means setting your heart to stay faithful for the entire race. The race of faith is not a hundred-yard dash—it is a lifelong journey on the path the Lord has marked out for you. In Isaiah God gives us this promise: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow” (Isaiah 48:17). We know we can persevere because of Christ and the multitudes who have endured before us. As Paul confidently stated, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
We endure by keeping our eyes on Jesus. Warren Wiersbe commented, “To look means ‘to trust’ . . . Christ is both the exemplar and the enabler! As we see Him in the Word and yield to His Spirit, He increases our faith and enables us to run the race.”[iii] We look to Jesus because he is the champion—the founder and perfecter of our faith who endured the cross for the joy set before him.
In Hebrews 10:35-36 we find this exhortation: “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” We desire to run faithfully and with perseverance because Jesus is more than worthy to receive our steadfast commitment—for he indeed thrills the soul.
I read of a race in ancient Greece where what mattered was not winning first place, but crossing the finish line with your torch burning. To finish our race with our torches burning necessitates running intentionally, temptation-aware, and dependent upon the Holy Spirit—all key elements of running faithfully.
What discipline do you need to consider in order to run with endurance?
As you examine your life, identify what weights or sin need to be addressed in order to run freely.
Father, may I fix my eyes on you as I run my race, trusting you to strengthen me for the path you have set before me. And Lord, may I keep my torch burning. Amen.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
Kate B. Wilkinson
[i] Richards, Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, 484.
[ii] Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 9.
[iii] Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: New Testament, 839.
The Faithful Way by Cynthia Heald
In The Faithful Way, treasured Bible-study teacher Cynthia Heald challenges believers of all ages to remain faithful to guard their hearts and be on the alert against temptation. Our goal, no matter our age, should be to follow Christ well and finish strong. The Faithful Way is a 31-day devotional study that both cautions and comforts as Cynthia leads readers through the lessons God has taught her through His character, His Word, and His saints. The Faithful Way will equip readers to face temptations, encourage them in an intentionally faithful life that brings honor to Christ, and enable them to say “I have remained faithful.”