Hebrews 12 is referred to as the “Race of Life.” It reminds me of the fact that there was a day in my life that the race began (salvation) and today the race continues (sanctification), and one day this race will end (glorification). John Newton penned this in the 1700’s:
“Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
Thru many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come; (Our Past)
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, (Our Present)
And grace will lead me home.” (Our Future)
The arena portrayed in Hebrews 12 makes reference to the grandstands, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These witnesses are not spectators but rather those who participated in the same race years before. Grace makes you strong. It is the ability or power to obey. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
To run the race, we must recognize burdensome weights or encumbrances. It may be something that is fine for someone else to do, but for us it takes the edge off our spiritual lives. Weights cut away our hunger to know God better or take away our desire to be obedient to the will of God. Remember God never removes anything from our lives unless He gives us something better to replace our loss.
We must recognize “sin which so easily ensnares us.” It can be described by a vine that climbs a tree and entangles itself around the tree. Sin keeps us from moving forward in the race. We deal with sin by confessing them to the Lord by bringing it up to God and yielding it up to Him. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
When we cast off weights and acknowledge sin, we can run with “patience” or “endurance.” We are to finish the race; to reach the goal set before us. There is a God-given potential in the race for each of us; based on our calling, giftedness, enablement, etc. We have to set our sights on our goal and run with enthusiasm and excitement. “Race” reminds me of commitment, effort, preparation, dress, agony, and desire to finish well. If I am going to go the distance then there must be a commitment to the challenge and sometimes chastening in the challenge or discipline.
Our example is Jesus Christ. He is the pattern for our lives and gives the proper perspective on life. He leads the procession as author and perfecter of faith. When you are faced with pressures, opposition from family or friends, weariness from service; consider Him. Verse 3 says, “Don’t become “weary” and “discouraged” in your souls. We must be continually reminded that we are His children. Exhortation believes the best and senses the Lord uses the experiences of life, even the difficult, to educate and discipline us for greater service. Knowing and believing is one side of the coin; living and obeying is the other. The purpose of “Grace for the Race” is not to teach truth only, but to encourage living up to the truth.