Christianity · encouragement · life · religion · spiritual strength

It’s mainly an endurance race, not a sprint

Endurance. Stamina. Patience. According to Hebrews 12, we must allow God to place these within us to make it all the way through to the end in our Christian life. As Paul states:

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 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,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

Our Christian journey is often a strenuous struggle. To face it requires spiritual training. If you’ve ever trained for something, you know there are missteps along the way. Spiritually speaking, training on how to avoid missteps is how we lay aside every weight and sin which can hinder us in the race. Shaking off dead weight improves our endurance. This dead weight can include worshiping prosperity, ungodly compromises to gain human accolades, domination by the cares/anxieties of this world (Matthew 6:25-32), or just irresponsible personal habits. These are offshoots of sin which can easily trip us up. Basically, anything catering to the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) needs to be pushed out.

This struggle is also a spectacle. We are surrounded in heaven by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11) who not only act as role models but are in the cheering section, hoping we have the patience it takes to finish the race set before us. Having it “set before us” means a specific path, a route, must be followed to make it successfully to the finish line.

In addition to our cheering section, we have the finish line to help us focus. Jesus is the one who got the race started ahead of us and he is the one who finished it before us as the author and finisher of our faith. Now he cheerfully awaits us at the finish line. As the quintessential example of what we must endure and how we can make it, Jesus focused on the joy that awaited him at the end of his struggles. That prize of joy was so valuable, enduring the cross and despising the shame hurled at him by the world paled in comparison. That joy paid off when he took his rightful place at the Father’s right hand in heaven.

According to v. 3 above, paying attention to how Jesus handled and endured the many people who contradicted him is how we can fend off weariness and the urge to give up in the Christian race. One way he endured their cruel criticisms was to take into account prophecies predicting he would have stiff opposition, so he walked into ministry with the preparation and expectation in his mind it would happen. He was not caught off guard. Therefore, getting our mindset correct is most of the battle.

But here’s another thing. Our race is fixed in our favor. The outcome has already been determined if we truly belong to the Lord. He is our teammate in the race. He’s also our sponsor. He provides us with the water we’ll need along the way (his word (Ephesians 5:25-26) and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5)). The Lord has taken every precaution to ensure we finish and win, because he never loses and neither will we in this race if we are on his team (John 6:39).

 

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