shutterstock_227869558 sm

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. ~ Hebrews 12:1, 2 (ESV)

READING: Hebrews 12:1-3

Church planting is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. So we must learn to run the race with endurance. The author of Hebrews gives us three keys to a good race:

First, choose the right heroes: “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” These “witnesses” are the heroes of the faith listed in chapter 11 – the men and women who kept running their race with endurance, despite great obstacles. By their own examples they are cheering us on: Don’t give up! Stay the course! Your reward is coming one day! Make sure your heroes are godly men and women who are running their own races with endurance.

Second, give up anything that hinders: “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings too closely.” Successful runners strip off anything that could slow them down or cause them to falter.

One hindrance is called “weight” (“encumbrances,” NASB) – anything that gets in the way of your pursuing God with a whole heart. Another is “sin which clings closely.” Sin trips us up and causes us to stumble. Church planters must keep their lives clean.

Third, keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep looking to Jesus. Jesus is always the key to everything. The term “looking to” literally means turning away from other things to focus only on Him.

Lord, Teach me to run my race with endurance! Amen.

Jim Carpenter