A Word for Today | Hebrews 12:1-2
It has been said that the story of our lives is only finished in the lives of other people. The same can be said of the great 11th chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which finds its application in the opening verses of chapter 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
Having studied the faith of others, the writer of Hebrews reminds us that now is the time that we are running the race of faith. Here is the context of our Christian lives: we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,” now in heaven, who bear testimony to faith in the Lord. This is the audience before whom you live, a great arena filled with the beloved of God, the faithful of all ages, and now is the day when you are running your race to the sounds of their approval and encouragement. Our true people are not only here below but also above, cheering us on and praising God for our faith.
For this reason, the writer of Hebrews states our calling in the Christian life. Hebrews 12:1 says that God has marked out a race for us, laying out a course for our lives: to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.” There are places we are to go, things we are to do, challenges we are to confront. Ours is not an easy calling so just as athletes train hard, the writer of Hebrews urges us: “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (Heb. 12:1). He regards hindrances as anything – good or bad in itself – that hinders our spiritual progress. These can be career ambitions, hobbies, or ungodly friendships. Just as an athlete makes sacrifices to gain speed and agility, Christians are to lay aside anything that hinders our progress in faith. How much more is this true of “sin which clings so closely.” Sin trips us up and knocks us off track. Think how a great man like King David became entangled into sin and what a horrible impact that sin had on his life, his family, and even the entire kingdom! How careful we should be to make this same mistake!
How wonderful, that Hebrews 12:2 concludes with a great encouragement in our faith: “looking to Jesus.” Here is the “secret” of the Christian life, to place our eyes not on the world with its enticements and threats, not even on ourselves with our petty successes and many failures, but on Him who is the source and fountain of all our spiritual vigor. John Owen writes:
A constant view of the glory of Christ will revive our souls and cause our spiritual lives to flourish and thrive. . . . The more we behold the glory of Christ by faith now, the more spiritual and the more heavenly will be the state of our souls. The reason why the spiritual life in our souls decays and withers is because we fill our minds full of other things. . . . But when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, these things will be expelled. . . . This is how our spiritual life is revived.
In Christ’s Love,