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).
Hebrews 11, that great chapter sometimes referred to as the “Hall of Faith,” gets a lot of attention—and rightfully so. Not only do those powerful verses summarize the lives of many who lived by their faith but also those who died for it, which I believe is something we needed to be reminded of often. However, if we stop there we miss the application of those great examples of faith.
Chapter 12 of Hebrews begins with that famous “call to action” word, THEREFORE. The word ties the previous verses to the ones that are to come. In other words, take those dynamic words you just read and do something with them! Hebrews 12:1 wants us to understand that all those who lived in faith before us did not do so in vain. Not only did they triumph in their own faith, whether they lived victorious lives or suffered heroic deaths, but they did so as examples for us. THEREFORE we too must live and die by faith in the One who went before us and now lives within us. That type of victorious, faith-filled life and death is epitomized by the words “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Each of us runs a different race but with the same Finish Line in sight—to cross from this temporal, broken world into the presence of the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. May it be said of us, as of those heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11, that we “finished well,” as endurance runners and not as sprinters who break out of the gates to the sounds of a cheering crowd, only to drop out when we become tired or exhausted or tempted.
Only God can carry us safely to that eternal Finish Line, but like the saints of old, we must commit to finish the race at any cost.