In Hebrews 12:1, the scriptures has this to say: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance THE RACE MARKED OUT FOR US”.
The Linz Marathon is a 42-kilometer race and is participated by different runners around the world. When I went to Austria last April 2011, I had the chance to witness this yearly event. After more than two (2) hours, the runners emerged in the finish line, in the center of the city called Hauptplatz along the Danube River. Although the race is difficult and grueling, the rewarding part is when the winners were announced and were given their tokens of appreciation. I saw the crowd went wild with excitement!
The Christian life is like running in a race. The runner (Christian) prepares himself before he runs. The training takes on many different forms and many different ways and needs a lot of time and body adjustments. To prepare, it takes discipline, hard work, focus, and determination. The bottom line is that the runner prepares so that he will be physically “fit” or be in excellent physical condition to run the race and cross the finish line with flying colors. The truth is, for a runner to be in excellent condition, he should not weigh more than two (2) pounds per inch of his body height. This means that for a man with a 5’5 height, his weight should be 130 pounds or not more than 59 kilograms. That’s kind of skinny but that’s exactly the kind of physical conditioning that a marathon runner requires.
A Christian who does not prepare for the grueling course of the race will not be ready to participate. And in a race, when you’re out of shape it’s impossible to be competitive much more to reach the finish line. Sadly, many Christians today are not really aware that they are supposed to run the race marked out for them. There are some who are aware but are unfit to run the race either because of laziness or they are unwilling to step out of their comfort zone. Still, there are a few who are not as focused and as determined as they should be. The glittering appeal of worldliness and the “sin that so easily entangles” held them hostage thereby making them spiritually weak.
How are we going to run this race?
First, the author also tells us to “throw off everything that hinders”. We know that weight slows us down. When you are burdened with extra weight and carrying extra baggage, it slows you down and it stoops you down. That is why it is a necessity to always examine our hearts and see if there are things (like money, power, or pleasure), persons, or relationships that takes up our priorities in life rather than serving God. If there is, you must decide to cast it aside.
Second, the author also mentioned that we must “throw off the sin that so easily entangles”. There could also be hidden sins (unconfessed) and recurring sins to the point of becoming an addiction that you must deal with in your life. You have to deal with it quickly before it’s too late. Your easily entangling sin may not be applicable to me and the sin that so easily entangles with me is different with you. We have different areas of weaknesses and we have to deal with this with courage and much prayer for us to overcome. This is not an option. You must decide to put that sin to death. As you deal with those sins in your life, remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you.
Lastly, we must run the race with perseverance. Perseverance right here means “to endure or to bear up courageously”. The word “Race” is “Agona” in Greek and this is where we get our English word “agony”. This means that it’s not going to be easy. As you run the race, you will face a lot of hardships, obstacles, difficulties, persecutions, heartaches, pain, and discouragements. The good news is that it was God who carefully marked out the race for you. God put before you a specific race that He intends for you to complete and win. God knows every inch, every detail of the course. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was left to chance or by accident! God planned the whole course of the race with your good in His mind (Romans 8:28).
As you run the race, bear in mind that the crown of life awaits you. Therefore, run in such a way as to win the prize (1Cor. 9:24). It’s worth everything you’ve got and its worth every effort you make.