The Race of Faith
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, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Your life following Christ is like a race—a race of faith. Like a good athlete, you must refuse anything that will hinder your pace or endurance. The object of this spiritual race is to run as fast as you can in order to win, and to give great witness of your faith.
The race of faith is different from a natural race. In a natural race, only one runner wins the prize. The Apostle Paul reminded us that “that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” (1 Cor. 9:24-26).
In the race of faith, we need to take off all unnecessary clothing and jewelry. Such things will hinder the runner. We must take off every weight and sin in order to run more quickly because a weight hinders and sin entangles. Even small weights are a hindrance because small weights, unaddressed, can morph into sins. In Christ, many weights are not wrong in and of themselves, but they can still hinder us in our spiritual race—be careful. And remember, hindrances are not the same for everyone (Gal. 5:7).
We must “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14), and never look back. To press is to “exert effort” (strive and struggle). But do we really need to exert such effort if we are living under grace? We are saved by grace, justified and sanctified by grace. But unlike “fruit” that naturally ripens on a tree, we will not naturally become just like Christ, because man has free-will and must actively and intentionally submit and obey God. Thus, we must press; we must work out our salvation as we run this race (Phil. 2:12).
Put your eyes on Jesus and do not be distracted (Heb. 12:2). Gazing off to the left or right at the world’s pleasures, and looking back will cause you to wander from side to side (Phil.3:13). Wandering from side to side slows you down and may jeopardize you from finishing your course. Just forget what is behind you (Luke 9:62; 2 Tim. 4:7). The mature in Christ will forget what is behind and press forward to win the race of faith!