Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:1-3
Last week we talked about setting some faith goals that will help you seek the Lord and grow in our faith more this year. One thing I have found over the years is, that when you set out to accomplish a new goal, especially one that involves growing your faith, you must be prepared to face some difficulties and obstacles. Satan likes to get us off our game, especially when we are first starting out.
When these obstacles come, it is easy for discouragement to set in and we give up before we really get started. Even with my best planned efforts, sometimes I get discouraged when the change I want doesn’t happen as fast or in the way I had hoped for. The author of the book of Hebrews seems to be speaking right into this type of situation. He is encouraging us with these verses in chapter 12 to not give up–the reward of our efforts will be worth it!
When I start to get discouraged, I sometimes find encouragement from others who have gone before me. I can tell myself, “Hey, if my friend Suzie can do it, maybe I can too!” Knowing others have conquered something that I want to conquer helps me stay the course. Their victory over the finish line or through a difficulty, helps me remember that there is victory waiting for me too.
Encouragement can only take us so far; we must also get serious about the goal. We need a steadfastness that says, “no matter what, I’m committed to making this happen.” Verse one says that we are to throw off everything (not some or just a little, but ev-er-y-thing!) that is hindering our faith and growth in the Lord, especially the sin that can entangle us like a vine and pull us away from God. Part of the “no matter what…” is to be willing to let God take away the things that are not helping us but hindering us in reaching our faith growth.
Once we have removed what’s hindering our progress toward the goal, we persevere. We need perseverance because obstacles will appear in our path and we will sometimes lose sight of where we are headed. Things will be going well, and then you or someone in your family gets the flu or you go on vacation or you have out-of-town guests visiting and you get thrown off the path toward your goal. It’s in these challenges that we must rely on God’s strength and the encouragement of others to persevere when the going gets tough.
We can overcome with perseverance when we have our eyes on the prize–stay focused on the goal. In the goal of faith, we keep our eyes set on Jesus. Not only is He our example but He is our guide. He has gone before us and endured more than we can possibly imagine but has made it to the other side, victoriously! He truly is the author and perfecter of our faith.
So, while there may be times that you start to grow weary, do not give up. Stay the course and keep running that race to the finish line! You can do it–you got this! And more importantly, God’s got you!