by David and Stephen Olford
Text: " . . . Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:1-2).
Thought: If ever the church needed a message on perseverance and steadfast continuance, she needs it today. Here we have the Christian life set before us as a race to be run. Notice:
The Instructions for the Race: "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (v. 1). In the Grecian games to which the writer here refers, all bodily unwieldiness had to be laid aside by a disciplinary diet. Likewise, heavenly runners must lay aside all weights within and without that would hinder spiritual progress, and by disciplined elimination refuse to countenance anything that would feed or foster unbelief in the heart. Furthermore, we are called upon to run with determined endurance. Faith must not be a momentary burst of emotion, but a settled habit of the soul which carries us on to the finishing line.
The Inspiration for the Race: "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses" (v. 1). The picture used here is that of the arena where spectators pressed around to see the competitors contesting for the prize. Undoubtedly, Paul had the heroes of faith mentioned in Chapter 11 in mind—men and women who were subject to our temptations and difficulties, but who came through victoriously. What an inspiration to us who follow!
The Imitation for the Race. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (v. 2). The word "look" occurs only this once in the New Testament and denotes the focused attention which shuts out all other distracting objects. While we may derive inspiration for the race from others, we imitate only one: Jesus Himself. Only in Jesus has faith its full expression and its full realization.
The Incentives for the Race. "The joy...set before Him" (v. 2). The Lord Jesus ran with patience the race set before Him because of the joy of doing the Father's will and of bringing many sons to glory. This was the aim of the Apostle Paul, and should determine our running also.
Thrust: "Looking to Jesus is the secret of continual victory."