Summary: As Christians, we are not sprinters, but long distance runners.
Long Distance Runner
Text: Heb. 12:1-3
1. Illustration: You are a long distance runner
You can feel the pain in your side
Yet you must run on
You are a long distance runner
Keep your face in the wind
And you’ll soon be home
I can see the strain on your face
Keep your eye on the goal and you’ll win the race
2. The Christian life has been compared to a race. In that race we must:
a. Lay aside all that holds us back
b. Run with determination
c. Run looking ahead
3. Read Heb. 12:1-3
Proposition: As Christians, we are not sprinters, but long distance runners.
Transition: In order to win the race we must...
I. Lay Aside All That Holds Us Back (1)
A. Lay Aside Every Weight
1. The writer of Hebrews begins this chapter by connecting it with the previous one - often referred to as the "faith chapter."
2. He says "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses..."
a. The picture is that of a race. The scene is a great coliseum filled to capacity with spectators ("great cloud"). The race is about to begin.
b. The crowd, the heroes of Hebrews 11, have participated in the race.
c. They have run and finished the race themselves—enduring to the end and winning.
d. Therefore, they are witnesses and examples for us.
3. The point is this: a great cloud of witnesses surrounds and envelops us—witnesses who believed God and stood fast for God—stood fast against all kinds of trials, temptations, and opposition.
a. Their great faith and endurance should stir and inspire us to believe and to endure in our belief.
b. They never buckled or crumbled in their faith.
4. However, if we are going to do what they did, we must throw off anything that will slow us down. We must "lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us..."
a. The words "lay aside" mean to take off, strip off and to remove as in taking off clothes.
b. This means any excess weight and bulk of body.
c. All serious athletes train and strain to remove all excess weight.
d. This refers to things that may be legitimate and innocent in and of themselves, but they hinder the Christian runner.
e. They hamper and slow him down instead of helping him run faster.
5. Anything that does not build us up and make us stronger is excess weight that slows us down.
a. The Christian runner must do exactly what the Olympic runner does: strain to remove all excess weight.
b. Do nothing—absolutely nothing—that hinders or hampers him from running at full speed.
c. But it is especially important to strip off the sin that so easily hinders our progress.
d. Sins such as greed, pride, arrogance, lust, gossip, dishonesty, and stealing can cause believers to drift off spiritual course. —Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary
B. Put It Off
1. Illustration: We can become distracted and look away from the goal of becoming like Christ. If you saw the movie Chariots of Fire, then maybe you remember the great runner Abraham. He had won so many races. His coach held up such discipline. But he finally lost one of the races because he looked to the side. Just as he was about to finish the race he looked to see where the competitor was. His coach said to him, that look cost you the race. He was not single minded on the finish and the prize that lay ahead.
2. Like that runner we can let things distract us from the race of faith.
3. Eph. 4:22-24 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
4. We must put off those things which hold us back.
a. They will weigh us down and make it difficult to run.
b. They will slow us down and make us lag behind.
c. If we are not careful, they will take us down, and we will not finish the race.
5. We must look at the things in our lives and ask ourselves is this going to help me win or make me lose the race of faith?
Transition: We must also...
II. Run With Determination (1)
A. Let Us Run With Endurance
1. The writer of Hebrews tells us to "run with endurance the race that is set before us..."
a. The word means endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, constancy, perseverance.
b. " let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (NIV).