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. – Heb. 12:2 KJV
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The scripture today is actually a follow up from Chapter 11 of the same book of Hebrews which emphasises the importance of faith to the Christian and the need to understand that as Christians we need to live with the believe that God will always do what He says He will do irrespective of time – Heb. 11:13-16. It also emphasises the need for Christians to accept that we are on a journey in this world and so should always think of home, which is the life after this life, in all that we do.
It is on this laid foundation that chapter 12 opens, reminding us that we have enough witnesses that lived their lives in faith and so we do not have any excuses not to live a similar life style. In running this race of life, the writer of Hebrews advices that:
1. We lay aside every weight. As human beings we definitely have lots of issues that are affecting us on a daily basis. Some are seen as positive whilst some come across as negative. They are normal issues that man must encounter if he or she is alive as they are necessary for making life in this realm, a success.
Ranging from family issues to educational challenges, to means of livelihood, these and many more occupy our thoughts and tend to rule our daily activities. For some of these issues, we easily overcome but there may be several others that have remained despite all our efforts and this accounts for the bulk of our worries. The writer of Hebrews advises that we can only run a life of faith if we lay aside all these issues and prevent them from becoming weighty and thus occupy our thoughts completely. These are issues about things that only start and end in this world and as sojourners in this world, it will not be the wisest decision to allow these issues to pre-occupy our thoughts.
They are the same issues that Jesus Christ advised we should not worry over adding that God will take care of them all and all we need do is to have faith in Him – Matt. 6:25-34. For you to run this race successfully do all you can to lay all those issues aside.
2. We lay aside every sin that easily besets us. The second lay aside that the writer of Hebrews advises are those sins that easily beset us which means they trouble us. There is no doubt as human beings that we know those things that are like habits and which are definitely against the laws of God or His plan for our lives.
They are like habits that we have formed and which we believe we cannot avoid but with clear knowledge that they transgress the instructions of God. The writer of the Book of Hebrews says they easily trouble us and that will be because we know they are wrong. We need to plead with God to help us overcome them if we are to successfully run this race of life.
3. We run with patience the race that is set before us. The writer of the book of Hebrews makes it clear that there is a race set before every Christian which may be the same or could be different from one person to the other. Which ever the case may be, the writer advises that we patiently run this race. Every race has its own challenge(s) and it is only with patience and persistence that anyone can be successful in it. In patience, one has a better understanding of the basics of the race and will therefore have a better chance of running it successfully. For you to successfully run this race of life, develop the virtue of patience.
4. And while doing the above, we should focus on Jesus. Being a race, anyone who wants success must avoid distractions. There are so many distractions, deliberate and not deliberate that line up along the race track of life. Those who succeed in this race focus only on the finishing line which is Jesus and not the applause or the boos of the spectators.
Whereas the applause may be good, they should only serve as a motivation because the competitor is yet to reach the finishing line and like all races, that same applause fades out once the race is over, win or lose, but the only thing that will last forever for the one who wins a race will be the expected reward which in this case is Eternal Life.
Likewise the boos whether out of hatred or genuine assessment will discourage the athlete and a smart athlete will learn to disregard it. That you started badly does not mean you must end badly. Life is full of testimonies of people who started the life race with many negatives but today are Christian role models. Do not let the boos determine your end. Take charge of your destiny and be the only person that will determine where and how you end your race.
In order to successfully cut off these applauses or boos, the writer of the book of Hebrews says you must focus on Christ because he is:
a. The author of your faith. To be the author of something is like being foundation of that thing. The writer of the book of Hebrews says Jesus is the foundation of faith and there is no controversy with that assertion – 1Cor. 3:11. Faith cannot be possessed in isolation as it has to be built on something. Everything that is built cannot be built outside the dimensions of its foundation else there is a huge chance of instability and destruction. Likewise Christians must realise that nothing can be done outside this foundation and the only way they can build successfully on this foundation is to understand its dimensions (instructions) and restrict themselves to them. They have to be careful about what they are building on this foundation that is already laid.
b. The finisher of your faith. To finish something is to successfully complete the thing according to specification else it will be deemed as incomplete or unsuccessful. Faith will be described as failed faith if it does not measure up to the standards of the foundation which is Christ. The Christian race will be seen as such also if Christian values are not associated with this race. Only Christ can help you to run this race of your life successfully. Lean on him for help and support by focussing on all his directives and you will successfully run the race.
Do not just run and finish your race of life but finish it well because that is when you can receive the crown set for those who successfully run the race. May God count us among such people in Jesus name. Amen.