Run with Focus – August 6, 2021

Perhaps like me you have spent time over the past few days watching the Olympics. We are fascinated by the amazing athletes accomplishing things we could never do. One aspect I particularly enjoy in the Olympic games is the track and field aspect. The speed, agility, and strength of these athletes is astounding. However, I am constantly reminded of the parallels the Scripture writers make between the Olympic races and the Christian life.

Today I would like to draw our attention to the parallel found in Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

The writer of Hebrews has just concluded an amazing chapter regaling the faith of the Old Testament saints. All of them longed for the thing that we have: the knowledge of the cross. They had faith that God would redeem them; they just didn’t know the details. We do! As a result, the writer pictured these saints as the spectators in the crowd looking down on us running our race. They have finished their race and are waiting to see how we finish ours.

So, we are challenged to run this race in the most efficient and successful way possible. We are to set aside the things that will slow us down: weights and sin. Our Olympic athletes wear uniforms designed to weigh as little as possible and reduce as much drag as possible. We would be appalled to see an athlete show up in the starting blocks dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. That is not a bad outfit, we wear it all the time. But it is not the best outfit for running in a high-level race in which the athletes are separated by hundredths of a second. We each have many things in life we need to set aside to run our Christian race effectively. Things that are not necessarily bad, but do not help us advance towards Christ. The wise and effective Christian will regularly examine their life and eliminate the unnecessary items that are hindering their walk with God. Just because it is not sin is no reason to keep it.

Beyond these weights, we also are beset by ever-present sin. Too often we excuse and justify sin instead of eliminating it. We must recognize that these sins will always come with a cost. So, examine your life and eliminate that which is holding you back from being an effective Christian. Prepare for your Christian race like the athlete prepares for the Olympic race.