Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV
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.
Hebrews 11 is the great discourse on faith. The writer compiles a list of people who lived by faith. Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joesph, Moses, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel are all commended for their faith even though they never got to see the promise of Christ. The writer’s thoughts transition in chapter 12 from what those who went before had done to how their faith should motivate the current readers to live their lives.
1. Great Cloud
Therefore… because all these people went before us and lived out their faith, even without the example of Christ, this is how it should affect us.
History should have an effect on us. It should never create legalism, but it should give us a pattern. The writer of Hebrews never said to do exactly what they did, but he did say to do it how they did it.
If we refuse to remember, we will be forced to learn everything people of faith have already proven. Instead of advancing, we will be stuck spinning our wheels.
Romans 15:4 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Job 8:8-10 “For inquire, please, of bygone ages, and consider what the fathers have searched out 9 For we are but of yesterday and know nothing, for our days on earth are a shadow. 10 Will they not teach you and tell you and utter words out of their understanding?
1 Corinthians 10:6-11 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
2. Lighten Up
Lay aside every weight and sin…
Earthly entanglements prohibit faith as much as blatant sin. Ancient runners ran naked so as not to inhibit their ability to run. We now have sleek gadgets and processes that seem to make our life easier, but we have to ask ourselves if they are truly adding to our faith and helping us run farther. Technology isn’t inherently bad, but could it be a weight that burdens us down? The question isn’t, “Can I run with this weight,” but “How long can I run with it?”
Do we need to know everything all the time? How long can I carry that? Do I instantly need to know if everyone approves or not, and how long can I carry that?
2 Timothy 2:4 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
We were not designed to carry the weight of our own sin. That is why Jesus took our sin upon himself. Jesus came to set us free from the weight of sin.
Ephesians 4:20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
3. Run with Endurance
...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.
The testimony of those who ran before us is there to encourage us as we keep Jesus in front of us as the motivation and reward for finishing. I’m not running for those who ran before, but I am encouraged by them. I’m running because of Christ. The testimony of others is that Christ’s power is enough, and that same power is available to me.
We cannot get the motivation wrong. I’m not running to receive the approval of those before me but the reward of Christ himself. The praise of man is never enough motivation to endure. I am to run my race, keeping Christ as the objective. If I run this way, I can endure to the end, and this is not a sprint.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Galatians 6:9 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
I should be a better runner because so many ran before me.