The author of Hebrews compared the Christian life to a race. He was definitely not talking about a short race, but instead, he was referring to a marathon - a race that requires preparation, stamina, determination and endurance.
In this age when runners in the Christian race are overwhelmed in the face of challenges, pressures, trials, turmoil, temptations etc - I want us to examine and discover together some important steps that are given in Hebrews 12: 1-3, which will certainly help us to remain in the race we are engaged in as Christians.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 "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, 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. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds."
I don’t know what you are facing presently as you run your race, but I do know that minding those things revealed in these verses will help us to be runners who are pleasing to the Lord, so that at the end of the race, we could boldly and unashamedly say with Apostle Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7
Please note with me some of the things we must guide against that will enable us to avoid falling, failing, faltering, fainting or fumbling in the race!!
Guide against Discouragement
In Exodus 6:9, we saw Moses relating the word of the Lord to the children of Israel who did not hearkened to him because of anguish of spirit (discouragement) and for cruel bondage. Discouragement is something that we all live with from time to time. As such you must not allow the pressures and burdens of life to overwhelm you and cause you anguish of spirit. 1 Peter 4:12-13 says "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy". See Luke 18:1; Galatians 6:9.
Discouragement is a killer. It has caused many to backslide, to turn away from the truth, turn their back to God and many have quit on God. John Calvin said this about his life, "In addition to the immense troubles by which I am so sorely consumed, there is almost no day on which some new pain or anxiety does not come." Spurgeon also had this to say about his own battles with discouragement, "Discouragement ... creeps over my heart and makes me go with heaviness to my work.... It is dreadfully weakening."
Be like David who preached to himself; see Psalm 42:5. He also encouraged himself in the Lord his God, see 1 Sam 30:6.
Guide against Disaster
We are to lay aside every weight that encumber and anything that would hinder us from running effectively. Whatever has more of us than Jesus in our lives will have to go, if we are to run well! Whatever takes your attention, your time, your resources, your strength, much more than Jesus takes is a weight in your life. See 1 Cor. 6:12.
We are to lay aside the besetting sins that entangle and those things that are of particular problem for us as individuals must be dealt with. We are to remove ourselves from their presence, company, surroundings etc. See Psalm 1:1-3. We must avoid disaster from the encumbrances of life and the entanglements of sin in our pursuit of a glorious eternal reward.
Guide against Distractions
This requires patience - we are told to "run with patience the race which is set before us". We are not running a short distant race, we are running a marathon! You can be slow, but be determined to be steady. As we run this race, we are to keep ourselves focused - such that discouragement, disaster, distractions, deceptions can all be ruled and reigned over.
Be Jesus-Person focus - "Looking unto Jesus." Isa. 45:22. We were brought into the race by looking unto Jesus, we can therefore only continue successfully in the race by keeping our eyes on Him. Not only has He gone through the way, He is the way. We should not allow the failures, failings and faltering of some to cause us to stumble or hinder us from the race. The only way we can run well is for us to keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
Be Jesus-Performance focus - Not only should we keep our eyes on the Lord's person as we run, but also on His performance. As we run the race of life, let us take courage in the fact that Jesus Christ had already passed this way. As we run and face the pressures of life, we have Him to help us along the way, Heb. 4:15-16.
Guide against Deceptions
We need to objectively and determinedly deal with "self". We must avoid the presumption or the thought that we can do it by our power, strength, earthly wisdom, knowledge, etc. see 2 Cor. 3: 4-6. We must vigorously and at all times refuse lies and deceits from "others". The Bible enjoins us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, see Philippians 2:10. We must avoid unnecessary measuring, matching, comparing of efforts, results and achievements. The Scripture says comparing themselves to themselves they are not wise see 2 Cor. 10:12. We must as a matter of fact discourage and run away from "praise singers". When you are praised, please don't inhale it. If possible avoid it completely. Don't allow people to hail you to hell. Until the ultimate time when He will say to us - "well done, good and faithful servant" see Matthew 25:23, we should keep occupying, keep up the good works; keep waiting; watching and walking along the old ancient rugged path - see Jeremiah 6:16.