Minister’s Message: Finish the race

In the Bible, a letter was written to followers of Jesus who were discouraged

In the last couple of years, my oldest son has picked up a hobby of competing in endurance races. He is in regular training mode, and it seems like every three weeks he is competing in these disciplines: running, biking or swimming. Recently, a friend asked him to help him in a 30-mile ultramarathon race. The request was simple: go with me on the last 10-mile lap as you pace me and help me finish the race. While this was a physical race, this illustrates a greater spiritual example.

In the Bible, a letter was written to followers of Jesus who were discouraged. Instead of continually embracing the grace of God and disciplining their lives to actively follow him, they gravitated towards focusing on their works for God and relying on their power.

Does this sound familiar to many of us who commit to following God and then we get discouraged when the road gets tough, and we resort back to doing life on our own?

Hebrews 12:1 gives us a training plan on how to stay the course. It says “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.”

First, we can be encouraged by the faith of those who have gone before us. We can look at their examples and seek to emulate their actions of trust and dedication.

Next, we are admonished to “throw off” the sin that hinders and entangles us. For a follower of Jesus, sin discourages and separates us from the best God has for us. To accept God’s forgiveness and to live in his grace is the needed fuel to keep going.

Thirdly, the believer is told to run the race of life with perseverance. Perseverance means enduring through the tough things and keep going. Finally, in verse 2 we find the ultimate example to follow. The charge is given to fix “our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Not only does Jesus give us an example of how to live, but because of his death and resurrection he has made it possible for us to have victory in him. We can finish the race because Jesus has gone before us!

My son joined his friend for the last 10 miles of the ultramarathon and encouraged him to persevere to the finish line. We need encouragers like this in life and follow Jesus as the one who paved the way and gives us the ability “to not grow weary and lose heart.” (vs. 3).

Here are some questions to consider if you are seeking to finish the race right: Who are examples to follow? What in your life do you need to lay aside to stay strong? What can help you in your Christian life to persevere? How can you fix your eyes on Jesus today?

Frank Alioto pastors Roots Family Church and serves as a chaplain in our community.

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