Summary: In the New Testament we see people like Judas, Anannias, and Saphirra who started well but did not finish well.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (NLT)
In the New Testament we see people like Judas, Anannias, and Saphirra who started well but did not finish well.
I could add many names to the list from growing up in the church, from Bible College days, from churches I have pastored...some people that you know; they started well but they did not finish well. I see people who start well and follow Jesus with great zeal, and with first love enthusiasm they obey His commands...but I also see that some of them do not finish what they started!
They started well, but they do not finish well!
Ponder this question: which is more important, how you begin or how you finish?
All of chapter 11 speaks to us of our need for a faith that finishes well. We are told right off that without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith you cannot "finish well"!
Chapter 11 speaks to us from the lives of those who have finished well. They are witnesses who surround us with testimonies that encourage us to finish well.
Chapter 12 is really a continuation of the story line of chapter 11. We have learned much from these examples of faith. Now we are called to follow and do the same. From the past these men and women of faith look at us encouraging us to make it all the way…to finish well!
The apostle, having illustrated the nature and power of faith in the previous chapter, proceeds in this to exhort those to whom he wrote to apply the same principles to their own case, and to urge them to manifest the same steady confidence in God and perseverance in their holy walk.
Verse 1. Therefore. In view of what has been said in the previous chapter.
Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. The apostle represents those to whom he had referred in the previous chapter as looking on to witness the efforts which Christians make, and the manner in which they live. There is allusion here, doubtless, to the ancient games. A great multitude of spectators usually occupied the circular seats in the amphitheatre, from which they could easily behold the combatants. In like manner the apostle represents Christians as encompassed with the multitude of worthies to whom he had referred in the previous chapter.
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.
The Christian walk is not a sprint but a marathon and in a marathon the last mile is the toughest. Why?
Verse 2 - Its usual meaning is that of weight or burden; and there is allusion here, doubtless, to the runners in the games, who were careful not to encumber themselves with anything that was heavy. Hence their clothes were so made as not to impede their running, and hence they were careful in their training not to overburden themselves with food, and in every way to remove what would be an impediment or hindrance. As applied to Christians, it means that they should remove all which would obstruct their progress in the Christian course. Thus it is fair to apply it to whatever would be an impediment in our efforts to win the crown of life. It is not the same thing in all persons. In one it may be pride; in another, vanity; in another, worldliness; in another, a violent and almost ungovernable temper; in another, a corrupt imagination; in another, a heavy, leaden, insensible heart; in another, some improper and unholy attachment. Whatever it may be, we are exhorted to lay it aside; and this general direction may be applied to anything which prevents our making the highest possible attainment in the divine life.
Throw off the baggage that slows you down.
Throw off the things that hinder your ability to accomplish God’s purpose in you.
When a runner dresses for a race, he or she wears as little as possible. They wear skimpy shorts, and skimpy tank tops, which are full of little holes. They wear these things because they weigh very little. It only makes sense because weight slows them down. Snowsuits aren’t good for running!