Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us
Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us
And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
Hebrews 12:1 (NASB translation)
In this fourth part of our study in Hebrews 12:1-3, we will examine what it means to run with endurance (Heb 12:1), and how JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF will teach you to run and not get tired (Isa 40:31).
What does it mean to run? The English phrase “let us run” (NT:5143) in Hebrews 12:1, is transliterated from the Greek word “tréchō” and means swiftness in an effort to attain an end (not lagging behind – Rom 12:11); persevering in a course with a view to obtaining the reward (JESUS as our example – WHO for the joy set before HIM, endured the cross, Heb 12:2, Rom 12:2); to move easily and freely without hindrance or restraint (Gal 5:7).
What is endurance? It is the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; the capacity to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity. In this study we are not going to be looking at endurance from the standpoint of the act of withstanding or sustaining; instead we are going to look at endurance from ability or capacity, which is the quality or state of patience.
Patience is the will or ability to endure without complaining. Patience brings:
• a calmness to various situations (Psa 37:7, Psa 46:10, Psa 62:5)
• a willingness or ability to tolerate delay (Psa 123:2, Isa 40:31, Jam 5:11)
• self-control when steadfastness and perseverance is required (1 Cor 9:24-27, 2 Pet 1:6, 2 Tim 2:1-5)
Our patience in trusting our Beloved LORD GOD will achieve more than our own efforts to push through (1 Sam 2:9, Zec 4:6). Please take to heart, the “ability to withstand” and the “capacity to sustain” work together to produce endurance. Just as patiently trusting our Beloved LORD GOD while remaining obedient (Php 2:12). As an example, you are suffering through mistreatment, yet you remain obedient, by praying, loving, and forgiving (Luk 6:27-28, Mat 18:21-35), while patiently enduring the mistreatment (1 Pet 2:20). Your patience is working with your obedience, causing you to endure.
Please explain further the difference between withstanding or sustaining, and ability or capacity. Let’s look at seasoned runners. These runners know that there are two aspects of running, physical and mental. A runner will never excel in the physical if they can’t overcome the mental. The mental drives the physical. Ability drives withstanding, as capacity drives sustaining. You will never get going, or stay with it, if your mind does not kick in. Going on the run, starts with the decision to go, followed immediately with thoughts to discourage you from going. But you must set your mind to run, and ignore all discouraging thoughts.
Taking this very example, we will consider the two aspects to every Christian’s race, obedience and trust. In comparison to the running analogy, obedience is the physical; trust is the mental. When someone doesn’t completely trust The LORD GOD and HIS WORD, they will not fully obey HIM. King Saul was called to wait until the prophet Samuel arrived, but his lack of trust in Samuel’s timing, brought foolish disobedience (1 Sam 10:8, 1 Sam 13:1-14). We must stay alert and prayerful, so we will continue to trust our Beloved LORD GOD. Not being tempted to quit the race set before us (Matt 26:41, 1 Pet 5:8-9). We must set our eyes and hearts on The ONE WHO can strengthen us, and gives us the ability to finish, or remain obedient to the very end (Zec 10:12, 2 Ths 3:3, 1 Pet 5:10).
What is the race that has been set before us? Although the Greek word “agōn” (NT:73) was transliterated into the English word “race” according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it actually means any struggle with, dangers; annoyances; obstacles which stand in the way of faith, holiness, or a desire to spread the gospel. The race set before us is our Christian walk, it should be a steady onward movement, regardless of the struggles or battles.
When we were rescued through salvation, from the authority of Satan, and transferred into The Kingdom of CHRIST (Col 1:13), the spiritual battles with the enemies of our soul began (Eph 6:10-12). But our Beloved LORD JESUS prepared us for battle. HE gave us, HIS soldiers (2 Tim 2:3-5):
The strategic plan needed to effectively fight the battles, and accomplish specific goals (1 Kin 2:3, 2 Tim 3:16, Rom 15:4)
The proper battle gear (Eph 6:13-18, 2 Cor 6:7, 2 Cor 10:3-6)
The POWER (2 Cor 4:7, Rom 8:9-11) and reinforcement (Jhn 14:16, Jhn 14:26, Jhn 16:13) needed for victory
Encouragement, through HIS promise to never abandon us (Mat 28:20, Heb 13:5-6)
Forewarning that the battle would be fierce (2 Tim 3:12, Act 14:22, 1 Ths 3:2-5)
Assurance of victory (1 Jhn 5:4-5, Rev 12:11, Rev 14:12), that would be decisive (Rom 8:37, 1 Cor 15:57)
Is there anything else I should consider in completing my race? There are several things:
You are not like GOD (Gen 3:5). Humble yourself as a child (Mat 18:1-4) by exhibiting trust in HIS WORD, openness to HIS Will, and eagerness to obey HIM. Do not lean on your own understanding (Pro 3:5-8).
You can do nothing apart from HIM (Jhn 15:5) all your abilities and strength are through HIM (Php 4:13).
You must know that CHRIST JESUS alone has already won the battle (Col 2:13-15, Zep 3:17). The battles with your flesh is for sanctification (Rom 6:19, 1 Ths 4:1-7, 2 Ths 2:13, Heb 12:14); battles with spiritual wickedness reveal the source of your strength (Eph 6:10, Exd 15:2-3, Psa 18:1-3, Isa 12:2, Hab 3:18-19); and teach you to stand firm in our Beloved LORD GOD and HIS WORD (Eph 6:11-13, Jam 4:7, 1 Pet 5:8-9).
You must trust HIM at all times (Psa 62:8, Isa 26:4, Isa 50:10, Heb 11:6).
You must be willing to patiently wait on HIM (Psa 25:15, Psa 40:1, Psa 130:5-6, Isa 25:9).
Never forget that JESUS is your example for running the race set before you (1 Pet 2:21-23). During HIS earthly ministry, HE did what HE is calling us to do, fully trust and obey (Jhn 8:29, Heb 5:7-9).
Trust in The LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge HIM
And HE will make your paths straight
Do not be wise in your own eyes
Fear The LORD and turn away from evil
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones