Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 12:1-2 that examines the the metaphor of the Christian life as a race in a track and field event.
Winning Life’s Race
November 2, 2014
TEXT: Please turn in your Bibles to Hebrews 12
Illus. – When I was in high school, I participated in track and field.
When we’d arrive at a track meet, we’d begin by warming up with various stretching and warm-up exercises. When I participated in a race, the first thing I did was take off all the extras I was wearing—my warm up suit; my jacket; and my ski hat if it is real cold.
An official would say… “On your mark!” – and we’d get into our crouching position.
“Get set!” – we would raise up our haunches—feet and hands to the ground—poised to get the quickest speed for take off.
Then the official would shoot his gun, and we would all take off.
In a long race, it was always a very intense struggle. A 200-meter race is a mad dash to the finish line, but the 400-meter or the 800-meter was just sheer pain and agony because in a longer race, endurance is more important than sheer speed.
I was trained to NEVER give up. No matter how tired or sick we were or how much pain we experienced, we were trained to keep on running.
In the race, I always kept my eye out for the coach (who was my dad). When I’d go around the first lap, he’d be there cheering me on and shouting instructions to me. Then on the last lap, sometimes he’d run to the opposite side of the track and give more encouragement and instructions. When I came to the final stretch, and I could see the finish line—coach was always there, waving his arms, shouting to me, cheering me on.
One other thing we were taught: never turn your head and look at your opponents! That is a fatal mistake in a race because it does two things:
• First of all, it slows you down, even if only for a second, or even a half-second.
• Secondly, it causes you to lose your concentration. A race is sometimes as much MENTAL as it is PHYSICAL. It requires all the mental concentration you can muster to keep on going at full speed, or to pace yourself at the right stride on the longer races.
Now, all these things must have been on the writer of Hebrews’ mind when he penned our text, because they’re all things he points out in our passage that we should do in running the race of our Christian lives.
READ TEXT – Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
My sermon today is titled, “Winning Life’s Race.” For the Christian the key to winning the race of life is found in three verbs we see in our text:
I. LAY ASIDE – Notice in verse 1 – “...let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us...”
Why does the writer of Hebrews here say we should lay these things aside?—Because they “beset” us.
What does Paul mean by “beset”? In this context, the Greek word here means they “hinder” us.
Remember I told you that the first thing I did when I began a race was to take off all extra clothing—my jacket, my warm-up suit; my ski hat and even my watch and a chain I wore around my neck. Why?—because these would slow me down and cause me to not be able to run my fastest in the race, or unnecessarily distract me.
Suppose I ran the race with my warm-up suit and jacket on.
• The extra weight might be just enough to give my competitor the advantage.
• The extra weight was not the only issue: also the clothes would chafe and hinder the free movement of my arms and legs.
• A chain I used to wear around my neck would bounce up and down, distracting me, and after a short time, my ski hat would make my ears and head so hot, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate.
My competitor would be running totally unfettered, with less weight to carry, would have less wind resistance, and be without distractions, which would give him enough of an advantage to defeat me.
Paul mentions two things that we should lay aside because they hinder us:
• One is “SIN.”