Patient Endurance in the Race
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Our journey in this life is not easy. Whether we are trying to recover from an addiction or emotional issues, from an illness, or from our old ways, the walk can sometimes be difficult. In order to run a race, we must train and be in top condition. We must eat correctly and exercise. Any extra weight, be it physical or emotional, can hinder our chances in finishing and winning the race. The same is true in our spiritual journey. Paul has often compared our walk to a race and how we must have endurance and faith to finish it out. Hebrews also gives the same conclusion when it states “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” in verse 1. In order to do so, we must do what it says in verse 1 and lay aside every weight and sin which will easily ensnare us.
There are so many traps the enemy will use to distract us away from winning our spiritual race. He uses temptations that please our flesh to turn our thoughts away from God and place them on other things. He can easily tempt others to say hurtful and damaging words to us which can easily turn our hearts cold after a while if we dwell on it too long and do not forgive. Sometimes, however, it’s not the enemy but our lack of self-control as we allow our flesh to rule us by giving into the addictions, by retaliating back with harsh words and actions or by thinking negatively about ourselves instead of believing what God says about us in His Word.
In order to win not only this spiritual race but to win ever battle we come up against, we must follow the advice we receive in Hebrews and lay aside every weight and sin that so easily ensnares us and run with endurance. Endurance is simply the ability or strength to continue on despite our fatigue, stress or other unfavorable conditions. When we come upon different obstacles in our race, such as mentioned above, we must have patient endurance and endure the attacks patiently and continue running. We must utilize prayer and the Word of God to battle these attacks as they pop up on our path, surrender or give up to the Lord what we can’t take care of ourselves and continue running. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul states the following:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
This is how we must think in order to win this race, but there will be times we will come across other people running the same race and we must make the choice to help them along instead of just running past them because in this race there will be other winners once they make it to the finish line. Galatians 6:2 states:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
This means when we see someone struggling along the way, we must help bear their burdens by listening to them and helping them. If they stumble and fall, we help them by lifting them up and getting them back on the path and running again. We help carry the weight of their earthly troubles. Galatians 6:1 tells us the following:
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
This means if we see someone falling or running towards the wrong path, we must reach out to them and restore them gently. In kindness, patience and love, this will leave a more lasting impression on the other person which, with God’s help, will lead them back on the right path. Though we cannot heal them, and we can’t become an enabler, we must be patient with them. We must be careful not to allow their situation to drag us back or tempt us, but through prayer and God’s guidance, we can keep running while helping them along. We also must consider how we would want to be treated if it were us in that situation because it could happen to any one of us at any given time. Our words can have a power effect on others either positively or negatively. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that death and life are in the power of our tongue and what comes from our tongue? Words. When we see others coming under attack be it spiritual or from life in general, we shouldn’t speak harshly to them in hopes that it will get them moving along. On the battlefield, when one soldier sees another soldier coming under fire and get his leg blown off, he doesn’t run over, grab the leg, beat him over the head with it and yell at him to get up and start running, and hand his leg back to him. He fires back at the enemy, runs over to his fellow soldier and carries him to safety where he can receive the help to survive. It takes a stronger soldier to help a weaker one. In the same respect, it takes a stronger Christian or a stronger person who has recovered, to help another person. This doesn’t mean we aren’t to be firm at times. It simply means the right words of encouragement will make all the difference whether that person stays where they are or gets up and continues running.
We must encourage each other to remain in the race and not give up. Many times it may seem like God is not listening to our prayers. It may seem like the problem we are in will never be resolved. It may seem like the illness we suffer from will never go away. It may seem like God will never break our chains to addictions. Though it may seem like this, it’s not true. God is always working on our behalf, we just fail to have the patience to continue on when we feel we don’t see it. We fail to believe that He is more powerful than our circumstance. Sometimes we expect Him to work the way we want Him to work when in reality He has a totally different plan that will be much better for us. Whatever the case, we must continue running in faith and remember what God says in His Word:
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24)
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” ( Galatians 6:9)
Wherever you are at, whatever you are going through, don’t give up! Keep running the race! Nourish yourself with the Word of God and strengthen yourself with prayer. God is your shield and defense and He will deliver you. In the meantime, pray for God to help you to shed the extra weight you are carrying with you, be it spiritual, emotional or the sin in your life. Then keep your eyes focused on Christ and keep moving forward.