STEPS FOR STAYING IN THE RACE
Intro: Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that the
Christian life is going to be easy. In fact, often the
opposite is true, John 16:33. Yes, difficulties will come
and trials will cross our paths and often, we will be
tempted to quit on God and drop out of the race. That
seems to be the idea in the book of Hebrews. These
Christians were enduring a terrible time of trial and
persecution. In light of that, the writer is attempting to
encourage these weary, hurting believers to be faithful
to the Lord and to continue to run their race.
The author of Hebrews is comparing he Christian life
to a race. He isn't talking about a 100 yard dash.
Instead, he is referring to a marathon. A race that
requires endurance and preparation. Tonight, I know
that I am in no physical shape to run in a marathon, but
I can be in the kind of spiritual shape it takes to run the
In a day when runners seem to be dropping out on
every hand, there are times when it is easy to be
discouraged about your own race. When trials come,
there may be the temptation to drop out for a while and
let others do the running. Tonight, I want to help you
stay in the race! I want to share some steps that are
given in these verse that will help you and me run this
race we are in this evening. I do not know what you
may be facing this evening as you run your race, but I
do know doing the things revealed in these verses will
help us all to be runners who are pleasing to the Lord
God. As the Lord gives liberty, allow me to share with
you these Steps For Staying I The Race. My goal in
preaching this message is that when we reach the end
of this race we might say with the Apostle Paul, "I have
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I
have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7
I. V. 1a STEP 1: CONSIDER THE SAINTS
(As the author begins this chapter, he draws our
attention back to chapter 11, where he mentioned many
of the great heroes and heroines of the faith. These
people are the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds
us as we run the race we have been given. Three
truths about these witnesses can give us
encouragement as we run our race.)
A. They Have Run Their Race - These were people
who ran the race they had been given. They did
not run perfectly, but they ran. They did not quit
until the race was finished. They endured
unspeakable pain and suffering, still they ran.
Now, they are seated in the grandstands and
observe the race we are running tonight. In doing
so, they stand as an encouragement and a
challenge to the rest of us.
(Ill. If these people could run their race, then so
can we. None of these were extraordinary people,
Ill. Elijah - James 5:17-18. They were merely
common men and women who evidenced a
profound faith in God. If they could live for the
Lord and serve Him, then you and I can as well!)
B. They Have Received Their Reward - These
people ran their race and now they are able to rest
in the Father's presence. Because they ran well,
they have received their reward. The prize is
theirs because they ran and they ran well.
(Again, this should give us encouragement to run
for he Lord. When the race is over, we will go to
be with Him, where we too will receive the rewards
earned during the course of our race here on earth
- Ill. Paul's expectation - 2 Tim. 4:8.)
C. They Have Revealed That God Is Reliable - The
greatest encouragement that we can derive from
these saints is the fact that they are proof positive
of the reliability of the Lord. If God took care of
them, honored their faith, sustained them, kept
them, used them, blessed them, and got glory
from their lives, then He will do the same in your
life and mine!
(Ill. When the Bible calls them witnesses, it doesn't
necessarily mean that they are watching every
move we make. Although that may be the case.
It does mean that they are witnesses to the
faithfulness of God. What it means is that they ran
their race and so can you! And, since God knows
no respect of purpose, He will be with you just as
He was with Moses, Abraham, David or any of the
others great heroes of the faith. God is absolutely
dependable, Heb. 13:5.)
I. Step 1: Consider The Saints
II. V. 1b-2a STEP 2: CONSIDER SELF
I. Step 1: Consider The Saints
A. We Must Make Proper Preparations - when
there is a race to be run, the wise runner must
make careful preparations. The same is true in
a spiritual race as well. We will never reach our
fullest potential for the Lord until we are willing
to make the preparations and sacrifices that are
necessary for running the race.
1. Lay Aside All Weights - This refers to a
runner making sure that all extra weights
have been removed from his body. A 300
pound man isn't ready to run a marathon. In
the spiritual arena, this refers to anything
that hinders our walk with God. It speaks of
things that are innocent in and of
themselves, but when they slow you down in
the Christian race, they are weights and they
must go. The list of these things could be
endless, but a few are:
a. Seeking entertainment instead of
fellowshipping and communing with God.
b. Seeking possessions and the things of
this world instead of seeking God.
c. Giving our attention to things like music,
television shows, movies, etc that do not
focus our minds on the Lord.
In short, this refers to anything that does not
build us up in or make us stronger in the Lord.
Anything that does not build us up in the Lord,
is a weight and a hindrance and should be
removed from our life.
2. Lay Aside All Sins - Next, the author
encourages his readers to get rid of
"besetting sins". This refers to sins which
cling to, distracts, entangles and trips the
Christian runner. The picture is of a man
trying to run a race while dressed in the long
flowing robes of the day. It would be easy
for him to be tripped up and fall out of the
(Ill. There are many sins that could be
mentioned at this point, but the idea in this
verse is that particular sin which trips you
up. You know where you are weak. There
are sins that do not tempt you at all, but
there are others that are a constant source
of temptation. This is what the writer is
referring to here. Whatever that sin is, it
must be stripped off and avoided at all
costs. Else, it will entangle you, trip you and
prevent you from finishing your race! Ill.
B. We Must Run With Patience - Here the picture
is of a runner settling in for the long haul.
However, it is not a picture of sitting back and
waiting to see what will come our way in life. It is
an active word that tells speaks of a person who
has a spirit in him that stands up and faces the
trials of life. He goes forth and runs at trouble. He
conquers it and over comes it in the power of the
Lord. He is able to face his trials because he
knows the Lord has brought it to him for his own
good and for God's glory, Rom. 8:28.
(Ill. This merely teaches us that the Christian
runner has endurance. He has a little grit. He
stands strong in the Lord and runs his race, 1 Cor.
C. We Must Guard Our Priorities - Notice that
verse 2a tells us that we are to run "looking
unto Jesus the author and finisher of our
faith." Plainly put, that means we are to use
Jesus as our focal point while we run the race
we have been given by God. You see, He ran
His race, and He ran it well. He finished the
course that was laid out for Him and now He
stands as the supreme champion in the race of
life. In fact, He is the race judge, (Ill. The race
judge was the man who called the race. He
decided who was disqualified and who was
running well.). While we run, we must not look
at the other runners. Doing so will cause
distraction and defeat. We must not look at
circumstances. Doing so will result in
distraction and defeat. Our eyes are to be on
the One who started us on this race, and the
One who will greet us at the end of it. Our
primary duty while we run is to look to Him.
Anything less will spell disaster for the Christian
(Ill. Notice the wording "the race that is set
before us." We each have our own race to run.
This challenges us to remember some things.
1. We each have our own race to run! That is,
you cannot run in my lane and I cannot run in
yours! I am convinced that the cause of Christ
has been hindered by many who refuse to run
in their own lane and they end up hindering
everyone around them.
2. We are not in competition, but we are on the
same team! My job isn't to outrun you, my job
is to run for Jesus, the race that He has
planned for me to the best of my ability.
3. Our course has been individually designed!
The race you are running has been prepared
just for you. The best thing we can do is run
our race to the best of our God-given ability.
II. Step 2: Consider Self
III. V. 2b-3 STEP 3: CONSIDER THE SAVIOR
(As we run this race and look to Jesus, the author goes
onto tell us several things about His race that we are to
look to that will help us as we run the race we have
A. Consider His Race - His was a hard race that
began in poverty and ended in pain on a cross.
His was a race that lead Him around a track
lined with hatred, bitterness, opposition and the
desire to see Him dead. His was a race that set
the perfect example of how a race should be run.
His was a race in which He never faltered. He
never lost sight of the goal and He never quit
running until the goal had been achieved. When
you feel like quitting, just look to Jesus and
consider the race He ran for you and me. Then,
run, Christian run!
B. Consider His Reasons - The Bible tells us here
that Jesus ran "for the joy that was set before
Him" Where is the joy in going to a cross?
Where is the joy in dying like a common
criminal? Where is the joy in being rejected by
people you love? For Jesus, the joy was in what
would happen when He finished His race. For
Him, the joy was the day of redemption that
would bring about the following:
1. The salvation of all believers
2. The day when He would be in Heaven with
the redeemed of the ages.
3. The day when He would reclaim the glory He
had shared with the Father from eternity past.
4. The day when there would be a new heavens
and a new earth where all the redeemed would be worshiping the Father.
5. The day when salvation would be ultimately
completed, sin forever destroyed, Satan
forever banished and perfect righteousness would rule in every heart.
(Ill. That's why Jesus ran! He was able to look
past the cross. He was able to despise the
shame. He was able to think beyond everything
He would be called upon to face in this world and
He was able to see you. He ran His race for us.
We are what motivated the heart of the Savior to
go to that cross and die.)
(Ill. we need to come to the place where we are
able to look beyond the situations and
circumstances of life and envision that day when
we too will be home with the Savior. Oh, what a
day that will be!! Glory to God, that will give you
a second wind to be able to run your race with
C. Consider His Reward - Jesus ran well and when
He finished, He sat down with the Father in His
throne! You see, Jesus knew where He was
headed! That made it a little easier to run the
(Ill. The same is true for you and me tonight.
When we are able to get a heavenly vision, it
makes the race more bearable. Hey, it's all a
matter of perspective anyway!)
D. Consider His Resolve - Verse 3 tells us that
Jesus endured must to finish His race. Hey folks,
He suffered more than you or I can grasp. A
short list of things includes:
1. He was born to an unwed mother - Mt.
2. He was born in a stable - Lk. 2:7
3. Born to poor parents - Luke 2:24
4. His life was threatened as a baby - Matt.
5. His birth was the cause of terrible suffering
- Mt. 2:16ff
6. He was moved as a baby - Matt. 2:13ff
7. He was raised in a despicable town -
Nazareth - Luke 2:39
8. His father died when He was young - Mt.
9. He had to support His family - Mt. 13:55-58
10. He had no home and no place to lay His
head - Mt. 8:20; Luke 9:58
11. He was hated and opposed by others -
12. He was charged with insanity - Mark 3:21
13. He was charged with demon possession -
14. He opposed by His family - Mark 3:21-22
15. He was rejected, hated and opposed by the
audiences who came to hear Him speak -
Matt. 13:53-58; Luke 4:28-29.
16. He was betrayed by a close friend - Mark
17. He was left alone, rejected and forsaken by
all of His friends - Mark 14:50.
18. He was tried before the high court of the
land and tried with treason - John 18:33.
19. He was executed as a common criminal by
means of crucifixion - John 19:16ff.
(Ill. Have any of you ever suffered to that degree?
Probably not! That is why we are told to compare
our sufferings with His when we feel like giving
up. He endured until the end so that we might be
saved. He stands as our example. Therefore, let
us run with patience the race that is set before us!
You see, Jesus has already been around the
track, That is why He is able to help us as we run
- Heb. 4:15.)
Conc: How is your race progressing? Do you need
encouragement tonight? Let me challenge you to get
your eyes back on Jesus. Stop looking at the other
runners. Stop looking at the circumstances through
which you are running. Look to Him this evening, get
rid of those weights, strip off the besetting sins and
make up your mind to run a patient race.