Summary: The Bible describes life like a race, not a hundred yard dash, mind you, but a marathon. And while everyone runs in this race, not everyone will finish well. This sermon looks at how we can finish this race well, even when we feel like giving up.
A Faith That Works
“Running God’s Race”
Let me ask three critical questions
• What have you felt like giving up on? Is it your dreams, goals, marriage? Do you feel like giving up on God, or do you feel like giving up period?
• What have you left undone, a commitment, project, promise, vow, or pledge.
• What’s holding you back, distracting you? Is it a relationship, fear or worry, job or possessions, how about misplaced morals or values?
These are critical questions when we consider what the writer of Hebrews says,
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV)
The Bible describes life like a race, not a hundred yard dash, mind you, but a marathon. And while everyone runs in this race, not everyone will finish well. They’ll get discouraged, distracted, hurt, or they’ll just give up. Eventually they’ll find themselves sitting on the sidelines with their dreams unrealized and giving up on their God given potential.
They leave a lot of things in life unfinished. They start out well, but soon they get tired, bored, and distracted. They never finish and life feels unfulfilled. They’ve strewn the rubble of uncompleted project, unfulfilled commitments, and unrealized promises throughout the course of their lives.
The Apostle Paul talks about this life as a race saying if we want to receive the prize of heaven at the end, we’ll need to run it according to the rules, 1 Timothy 2:5.
But still people live life saying, “Life Happens.” Yet what’s also true is that life is what we make of it.
Our character is not determined in how well we start the race, but how we finish it. This is why Paul could say,
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 NKJV)
Tonight we’ll be looking at how we can finish this race well, even when we feel like giving up. We’ll be looking at four things everyone needs to do if they want to finish well and hear the Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of the Lord.” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
1. Remove the Hindrances
We need to remove those things that drag us down and hold us back from being everything God has called us to be.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us.” (Hebrews 12:1b NKJV)
Now this is not a gentle removal. The wording means violently taking off and throwing it away. If you were water skiing in your snowsuit and you fell in the water, you’d be violently tearing away your clothing before you sunk to the bottom.
God has created us uniquely; therefore, God has created a unique race for each of us. The problem is the expectations others place upon us, and that’s because they want us to run their race. These expectations can actually become distractions. We can only live the life God has given, and we won’t finish the race well until we let go of these false expectations of others. If we live by any other expectations than God’s expectations for us then we’re not going to be living God’s best.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we want to finish well we’re going to have to simplify. We need to get rid of the baggage, remove the diversions, eliminate the distractions, and whatever else that weighs us down and prevents us from running the race God has set before us.
One of the main distractions is all the stuff we acquire, that is, our possessions.
Jim Henson of Muppet fame, made a movie called Labyrinth. In the movie a teenage girl went searching for her baby brother that had been stolen. One of the scenes has her in her bedroom with a little old Muppet woman who kept piling her possessions on her back. The more she became weighed down with all the stuff she began to forget her mission and purpose.
That’s what happens to us. We start to worry about keeping and holding onto all the stuff, and in the process we’ve lost our way. We become so distracted by the stuff that we soon find ourselves out of the game and onto the sidelines of life.
Another big time hindrance is our past. Our past really weighs us down, and that’s because we’re loaded down with either guilt and shame over what we’ve done, or resentment and bitterness over what others have done to us.