“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.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Paul knew about the athletic contests of his day, particularly the ones that involved running. This is evident from the fact that he refers to these races periodically in his writings. In our verse about running, Paul speaks of the witnesses, weights, and work involved in the running of races to compare it to living our Christian faith.
Witnesses. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.” Some of the witnesses here refer back to the great characters spoken of in chapter eleven of Hebrews, the chapter that precedes our verse. The crowd at a race or other athletic contest can be a great help in inspiring and cheering you on in your performance. When we read of the lives of the great saints recorded in chapter eleven of Hebrews, it inspires us to do well in our performance just as a crowd inspires athletic performances.
Weights. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” To run a good race, the runner does not carry around any unnecessary weight. That would slow him down and greatly hinder his running. From reducing the weight and fat of his body to removing the long and heavy robes that would weigh him down and entangle him when running, the runner gets ready to run. Sin is spoken of here as the great hindrance to living the Christian life.
Work. “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Here is reference to the actual running. First, we are to run fervently. “Run.” We are to be fervent in our faith. Second, we are to run steadfastly. “Patience.” Runners know that during the race the whole body cries out to stop long before the race is over. To run well we must run faithfully. And third, we are to run correctly. “The race that is set before us.” We are to run the course prescribed by God. He has a calling for each of us. We must run that course, we must go the way He directs, or we do not run correctly.
May God increase our level of service as we keep our eyes on Jesus!
- Bro. David Crowe