The goal for a runner is to win the race. However, practically speaking, most runners, especially in a marathon, simply have the goal of completing the race. The Jewish believers, to whom the book of Hebrews was written, needed encouragement to continue and finish their race.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
“…let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Hebrews 5:12
There is always a danger of dropping out of the race. Paul, in fact, as he neared the end of his race, was concerned enough about Timothy that he encouraged him to continue.
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;” 2 Timothy 3:14
Are you about to drop out of the race? Have you become discouraged? Have you gotten knocked down so often this past year that you don’t think you have the strength to get back up again?
As we close out 2017 and get ready to step into 2018, let us each re-evaluate, reset, and then restart!
Whether we realize it or not, we are all constantly evaluating and re-evaluating just about every aspect of our lives. We must take the time to determine what is of value and importance in our lives. The reason that we must re-evaluate things in our lives is to remind ourselves of that which is most important and most valuable in our lives.
May I ask you,
- “What is most important and most valuable to you?”
- “In this past year what has been most important and most valuable to you?”
- “In this coming year what should be most important and most valuable to you?”
Hebrews 12:1 reminds us of what, as a believer in Jesus Christ, should be important and valuable in our lives, “…let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
The “race” is our Christian life and all that that includes. We are called to stay the course and remain faithful to the end. How important is your Christian life, your testimony, your walk with the Lord? How valuable is your Christian life, your testimony and your walk with the Lord?
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you re-evaluate your Christian life:
- Where are you at – in your Christian life – today as compared to where you were on December 31, 2016?
- Am I becoming more like Christ?
- Are you growing, have you become stagnant, or have you begun to slip?
- Is your Christian life as vibrant and exciting today as it was when you first accepted Christ?
Once you have re-evaluated your Christian life, it’s time for a reset…
Hebrews 12:1 tells us very clearly how to do a “reset.”
“…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…”
Most of us, if we were honest, would have to say that, in our Christian life, we are “easily beset.” We are easily distracted from what is truly valuable and important. Not only are we easily distracted but we can also be easily frustrated to the point of pulling out of the race and giving up. We are told to lay aside those things which do “so easily beset us!”
We must lay aside sin. What sin or sins have you allowed to creep into your life this past year which has begun to distract you and frustrate you?
We must lay aside every weight. These are things – activities, relationships, objects, thoughts, etc. – which may not inherently be wicked or evil but which can be distracting to us as we seek to run the race.
However, I don’t want to focus on the sin and the weight. Most of us, without too much prompting, can probably readily point out the sin and the weights that we have accumulated in our lives that are keeping us from running the race.
The question really is, though, what are you going to do about it? The Bible says, “…let us lay aside…” Take those things off and put them away – cast them off – get rid of them!
“That ye put off concerning the former conversation [behavior] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
“And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
“Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” Colossians 3:8-10
Once we have taken the time to re-evaluate our Christian life and have taken the necessary steps to reset, it’s then time to restart. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us run…” I understand that it would be easy, as we look back on 2017, to say something like this, “Man, I really messed up in my Christian life this past year. I’ve failed and I’ve been unfaithful to the Lord. What’s the point of even trying in 2018? I’ll just mess up again!” Ladies and gentlemen, let me challenge you to get back up, dust off the dirt, and get back in the race!
“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” Proverbs 24:16
It is not a matter of whether you fall down or not – we all fall down. What matters is that we get back up again!
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
“I know that whatever knocks me down won’t keep me down. I will continue to get back up again.” – Sarah Clark Monagle, brain cancer survivor
Often, in a race, those who finish the race will stay near the finish line to cheer on and encourage those still in the race. That’s the picture that the writer paints for us: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” That great cloud of witnesses includes those mentioned in the Great Hall of Faith.” We can keep going! We must, for the cause of Christ, keep going!
Two runners in the women’s 5,000 meter race in the 2016 Olympics were New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and the United States’ Abbey D’Agostino. During the race, Nikki Hamblin stumbled and fell. Abbey D’Agostino was right behind her and could not help but trip and fall over her. In the fall, D’Agostino injured her ACL and meniscus. Initially, though, D’Agostino got back up and helped Hamblin get back up saying, “Get up. Get up. We have to finish this.” They both continued but further on in the race, D’Agostino faltered, stopped, and then fell to the ground in pain from her torn ACL. This time, it was Hamblin who stopped and went back to D’Agostino to help her up and encourage her to continue the race. D’Agostino was the last runner to finish the race – in visible pain. The first one to greet her? Nikki Hamblin.
Christian, “Get up. Get up. We have to finish this!”