“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. Because of the joy* awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” Hebrews 12:1-4, NLT
Hebrews 11 has been called the “Hall of Faith.” It mentions a long list of people whose lives were used by God because of their faith. The next chapter begins this way: “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” (Hebrews 12:1).
Our addictions interfere with our ability to win in the race of life. Many of us feel like losers who have just dropped out of the race. Faith in God can give us the motivation to run the race, with a real chance at winning life’s rewards.
This illustration referred to the ancient Olympic games. In Bible times men wore flowing robes. Before an event, the athletes would strip off their robes and lay them aside to run without encumbrance. If someone tried to compete in his robe, he would get tripped up, losing both the race and the prize.
It is God’s will for us to win the race of life. The robe of our recurring sins needs to be laid aside. There will be pain from the exertion, but we are told to pace ourselves and bear the pain with patience. And remember, others who have run the same race and finished well are cheering us on!