“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”
Paul uses an illustration that everyone would recognise and understand. It still holds true for us today, having recently witnessed both the Olympics and the Para-Olympics. He is encouraging each of us to see ourselves in a similar light.
Firstly, there are spectators. They are there to watch, to support, to encourage and to applaud. We are not told exactly who this ‘great cloud of witnesses’ is. However, it could be that these are all those who have already died in the Lord and are with Him now. It is both humbling and exciting to sense that they are keenly interested in and supportive of our Christian lives and ministries. It should also make us pause if we are tempted into something which is unhealthy, unhelpful and unholy!
Secondly, there is the training involved. We cannot possibly merely drift along in the great race of the Christian life. Like all serious athletes we should be looking at a regular and healthy balance in our life-style as well as discarding surplus weights and activities. Some of these may not be wrong in themselves but may hinder us in our particular journey. We will also be practicing our own particular ‘disciplines’ or gifts.
Thirdly, there is the finishing line. We need to remember what the race of life is all about and where we are going. This involves recognising and avoiding distractions and keeping our focus and attention on the Lord at all times.
- “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3)
It is small wonder that one of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. If we are to run our particular race faithfully and to the end – there to receive not just the applause of the spectators but the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ from a smiling Lord Jesus – we will need the self-discipline required to make the journey less of a trial and more of a joy.
I have been chosen – let me finish my race
Lord Jesus, You have chosen me to be a member of Your team. Help me to run my part of the race faithfully, and with commitment and self-control, living at all times to Your honour and glory. Amen.