Run your Race
Hebrews 12:1-2 1THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, 2Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Those of you who were at church Sunday heard me talk about this already, but I think it is so important for us to be prepared to run the race that is set before us. When I looked at the meaning of the word “Race” I found these definitions- Race- Regular Course-the fixed course regularly followed or traveled by something; a Journey- a single passage along a fixed course, especially the course that somebody’s life follows; a narrow path or passage. That last one struck me- a narrow path or passage. Remember what it says in Matthew 7:13-14? 13Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. It’s not always going to be easy to run your race, just as the narrow path isn’t always easy to stay on. This verse says few are they who find it. However, if we use the principles found in the Word, we will stay on course and will be able to say like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 7I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith. 8[As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day–and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).
Over the next week or so we are going to discuss the things we need to do to effectively run our race. As we can see from today’s scripture we are going to have to: Throw aside every unnecessary weight, Throw aside the sin which clings to and entangles us, Run with patient endurance- steady and active persistence, Look away from all that distract, and Look to Jesus. Every one of these things requires action on our part, but by understanding how to apply this Word to our lives we will be equipped to run like never before!
Matthew 7:13-14 13Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.
Another way to put this, is it’s easy for you to live a life that leads to destruction, but it will be much harder to take the path that leads to life. In Deuteronomy 30:15-19 Joshua is talking to the people of Israel. He says 15See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil. 16[If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which] I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you go to possess. 17But if your [mind and] heart turn away and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish, and you shall not live long in the land which you pass over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live. Just like the Israelites, we are given the same choice- life or death. Not really a choice right?
Something that is almost disturbing about today’s verses is the end which says few are those who find it. I have to think that it is more difficult to find, not because it isn’t in plain sight, but because so many choose to look another direction. I am studying right now about living life in the Spirit. That requires us to constantly defeat our flesh. The crazy thing is, we already have the victory we just have to walk in it. Why then do we try so hard to defeat the fleshly desires that we encounter everyday? Perhaps we don’t have a true revelation of the power of God that is on the inside of us. It says in Romans 8:10-12 10But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. 11And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you. 12So then, brethren, we are debtors, but not to the flesh [we are not obligated to our carnal nature], to live [a life ruled by the standards set up by the dictates] of the flesh. The greatest power that has ever been in Heaven or on earth was the power that resurrected Jesus from the dead, that enabled Him to defeat death, hell and the grave. We have that same power in us. If Jesus defeated death with this power that we possess as believers, why are we unable to defeat our flesh? We have the ability, we just aren’t using it. It’s kind of like a light switch. The power to light a room is there, but until the switch is flipped on it doesn’t work. The minute it’s turned on however, the darkness is dispelled by the light produced. It’s the same way for you and me. We have power and authority on the inside of us, waiting for us to use it. When we flip the switch and activate it, our flesh doesn’t have a chance. The path to life may be narrow, but if we live in the Spirit we will find ourselves on our way to life everlasting.