Today we are reminded that the Christian path is a marathon. In order to be faithful and stay faithful in following God we must fix our eyes on Jesus. He has begun a great work within us and will be faithful to complete it. Therefore, we will not lose heart!
1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The great cloud of witnesses are the list of faithful followers of God who acting upon their faith to serve God and trust him for their future hope. They are listed in chapter 11 for us, and they form the basis of this next point. Therefore… because of this cloud of witnesses, let us do what they did. Our verses don’t say that exactly, yet this is the point.
Do what they did. Follow in their example. Copy them. There is a summary of what they did and how they did it in verses 1-3 here. The life of faith in Jesus is a life that looks like this… You might say, but they didn’t have Jesus in their days (these are old testament witnesses). Even Moses, however, in 11:26 is said to have regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value. Even if they did not know of the Son of God directly, they knew the pre-incarnate Jesus in some fashion because he was active and working in their lives.
Throw off everything that hinders. What are the things which hinder your faith in God today? What relationships, activities, goals, fixations, or idols are hindrances to your faith? Can you eliminate them? Can you limit your time with them? Can you do without them? And is what God provides to the faithful enough to take their place? The answer is yes.
Throw off the sin that so easily entangles. You know better than anyone else which sin and temptation is the most entangling for you. We know that Satan prowls and lurks, looking for souls to devour (1Peter 5:8). He knows what entangles you, and he will do whatever he can to entangle you. He lays traps for us. And he knows that some sin areas are stickier for us than others. Just a little won’t hurt, and then he pulls us all the way in.
Run with perseverance. This reminds me of 2Corithians 4:1: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Whatever you are called to in God’s ministry, it is through his mercy you are called. Do not lose heart. Persevere. There will be obstacles; there will be pain; there will be disappointment and heartache; persevere. This is not a sprint. The Christian path is a marathon. We are running with God for the long term – a precursor to eternity – and so we need to pick up our second wind.
Fix your eyes on Jesus. This is the secret to perseverance in our relationships with God. If we can keep our focus on Jesus and what he did for us, we will be able to persevere and not grow weary and lose heart. Jesus is the pioneer, the author, the architect, and the finisher of faith. Jesus has begun a great work within us and will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). And so we focus on Jesus.
We also know that whatever we face, Jesus has faced worse: Jesus endured fierce opposition and went to the cross for us. Consider him, today and every day as you make decisions about whether to be faithful or let the things of the world take you off track.