I don’t know about you, but I do things better when people are watching — a lot better. Catch me at a restaurant, I’m ordering a salad. See me at the gym, I’m picking up heavier weights. Ride in my car, it’s Young & Free’s new album.
I can only guess I’m not the only one though. I bet you’re the same way.
In Hebrews 12:1 we see the writer encouraging us with this, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” Apparently the writer knew. He knew we wouldn’t make it if we were alone.
The truth is that we are not alone.
The simple idea that we’re not alone is liberating. I can only imagine that there are few things more disheartening than the feeling of loneliness. And that’s a lie the enemy feeds our minds. People don’t like you. You’re the only one struggling with this sin. You’ll never be free. This is just how you are.
If we believe these lies we anchor ourselves to our current situation with little hope of progressing. It’s impossible to believe a lie and live in freedom. That’s why the writer of Hebrews give us this advice, “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.”
To make it plain, let’s strip and run.
That’s right, strip and run. For me that’s easy to remember. Ironically enough, most people who strip and run usually do so in a soccer stadium with thousands of people watching when they are far from being alone. I’m sure it’s for attention. For us, we’re not looking for the attention of man but that approval of God. And remember, we are not alone.
I love how the bible distinguishes between the weight that slows us down and the sin that trips us up. This weight in our lives is a result of false beliefs that we’ve accrued through years of living in a broken world. Believing these lies won’t keep you from finishing the race, but they’ll guarantee that your progress will be slower.
Sin, however, is a different story. The sin in our lives will promise us a troubled journey ahead. Constantly falling will create a frustration in your life that would make any normal human want to give up and quit — which is exactly what the enemy wants you to do. It’s virtually impossible to effectively run the race that God has set before you while being tied down by sin. You can’t run this race alone.
Which begs us to ask the question, how do we overcome the weight and sin so that we can run our race with grace and power? That, my friends, is answered in verse two, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
The key to overcoming our flesh isn’t will power, it’s His power.
Our capacity to break free from addictions and live a life of wholeness is very much impossible apart from Jesus Christ. So what does it mean to keep our eyes on Christ? Some people will overcomplicate this. Let’s not do that. It’s by simply looking to Christ for everything. It looks like basic prayers, normal conversations, and acknowledging God in all your ways.
Sounds too easy to true, but it’s not. Wake up in the morning and ask God for strength and guidance. When dealing with fear and anxiety, take a second to take that thought captive and command it to obey the lordship of Christ. When your peace begins to waiver, ask God for direction and obey His word.
And while having a intimate relationship with Christ is crucial, reading His written word is just as important. John 1:1 reads, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Is there any better way to look Christ in the eyes than daily reading His word? I’m afraid not.
The writer of Hebrews finishes with this encouragement in verse 4, “After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.” And He’s right. We haven’t died in our struggle to overcome sin. But Christ did die so that we could overcome our sin. Therefore we partner ourselves with Christ. We lay aside the weights and sin that slow us down. And we run the race that is set before us.
It’s your race that will change the world. Run it well.