The Christian race must be run with patience
Published 12:14 pm Friday, August 26, 2022
My wife and I have a young friend that attends one of the local congregations in the Tri-Cities area. That young man is still in school, and he is active in cross-country running. He has been running for several years now and his goal is to always advance to the state finals. After a discussion with him and his family, my wife and I have decided to attend some of his races this fall.
Racing for a championship is difficult, and takes year-long preparation. It is not a quest that is taken lightly. Those who aspire to be a champion, don’t wait until the day of the race to prepare. Racing, especially cross country, demands yearlong preparation and patience. In like manner, “the Christian race must be run with patience.” We read in Hebrews 12:1-3, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” God reveals in these verses three guidelines that can help the Christian achieve their goal of winning the race.
First, the Christian must run the race with patience as he looks to the examples of faithful men and women of God from the past. In verse one we read that we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses. This might remind us of sitting in the stadiums of our time and watching athletes try to achieve the victory. In chapter eleven of Hebrews some of those witnesses are mentioned (Hebrews 11:4-31) Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab are listed. In (Hebrews 11:32-38) others are mentioned in association with the trials they faced. According to Hebrews 11:39-40, those individuals obtained a good report because they ran their races with patience. There is no doubt that children of God today have been provided with far greater blessings through the revelation of the New Testament. For this reason, we too should run our race with patience. Paul reminds us in Romans 15:4 that these examples from the Old Testament are a great source of encouragement that we should take advantage of.
Second, the Christian must run the race with patience as we lay aside certain things that may hinder us in the race. The writer reminds us that we must lay aside every weight, that is every sin that so easily overwhelms us. It is no wonder why this must be done. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7:13-14, of the difficulty of entering into heaven, so common sense tells us to rid ourselves of sin. Paul teaches us in Romans 13:12-14, that we are to cast off the works of darkness. Only in doing this can the child of God hope to win the race and receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
Third, to successfully run the Christian race we must look to Jesus, that is we must keep our eyes focused on Him. We must look to Jesus because He is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus was the perfect example of running the race; He won the race by His persistence. This persistence culminated when He endured the cross. In doing so, Jesus has shown us what running the race with patience is all about. Reminding ourselves of the things Jesus endured we should be encouraged to overcome evil and not faint in the presence of our enemy, Satan. We also should look to the example of Jesus, reminding ourselves of where He is now. According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus sits at the right hand of God. That is of importance for us because as long as we focus on Him, we can know that we are headed in the same direction. This was at the heart of Paul’s words in Colossians 3:1-4. There, Paul said that we should set our affections on things above and hide our lives in Him.
As Christians we must run the race with patience if we expect to be victorious in our Christian lives. The real question today is, have you entered the Christian race by becoming a Christian? If you have, are you running your race with patience? We should never forget that those who enter the Christian race and run it with patience have something special to look forward to, a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ, Elizabethton)