How would you answer the question, “The objective of my life is…”
This church, the family, and the mission we are part of exists today for the glory of God because of the hard work and the sacrifice of so many who have gone before us.
The Christian life is described as a race in the Bible, and when you receive Jesus Christ as Lord, the starting gun goes off.
Unfortunately, many people say yes to the offer of salvation but never get into the race. The Greek word for race is where we get the English word agony. Sometimes the Christian life is agonizing, and it requires determination, self-discipline, and perseverance.
The Apostle Paul frequently challenged us to run with determination and to continue pressing on towards the goal, keeping going when everything in you is crying out for respite.
It is pointless to enter a race if you have no intention of winning, or at least having a goal to finish in a certain time, a purpose for running the race. Yet, so many people begin the Christian race and then are content to sit back and wait until the Lord calls them home. We are saved for so much more than simply a ticket to heaven. The goal and motivation of every believer is to bring glory to God by representing Jesus on the earth.
As a reward for faithful living the Bible says that there are five crowns that we can attain as a reward in heaven. (See https://youtu.be/gHSW9P6zxDU )
Here is a good question to ask yourself: when you die, who at your memorial service will be a better person because you lived?
Hebrews 12:1 begins, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”
We are all motivated by encouragement, it is human nature. I don’t believe that there are galleries in heaven where people are watching us. We are not trying to impress people who have gone before us, but rather we are living for an audience of One, to bring honor and glory to God our Father. The word, “witnesses” refers to the fact that they are witnesses to God’s faithfulness, but examples to us.
Hebrews 12:1 continues, “…let us also lay aside every weight…” One of the greatest challenges a runner faces is unnecessary weight. We struggle because we are carrying things we are never intended to carry. Every one of us has a calling on our lives, but if we say no to God because there is some comfort, person, or possession that we cannot let go of in order to obey God, that thing is a weight. Many times, these things are not sinful, but if God tells us to let it go, and we don’t, then it becomes a sin. What are you carrying that is hindering you in the race that God has for you?
Hebrews 12:1 continues, “…and sin which clings so closely…” The Greek word used here for cling or entangle means to control tightly, speaking of a sin that controls us. This is even more dangerous than unnecessary weight, as it is the sin that we entertain and don’t put to death. It causes pain. Identify the sin, acknowledge it before God, lay it aside and crucify it. It may be pride, fear of man, lust, love of money, or a desire to be recognized. Whatever it is, you know where Satan loves to entrap you and prevent you from running the race that God has for you.
The writer continues, “…and let us run with endurance that is set before us.” To endure is to bear up under pressure. Long distance races are all about endurance. How do we learn or grow in endurance? In the training arena of life’s trials. The Christian life is a life of endurance and challenges.
Verse 2 goes on, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.” In running, as in most sports, it is extremely important where you focus your eyes. Some Christians are so pre-occupied with themselves and what they are doing for the Lord, or what other people are thinking about them, that they are not focused on Jesus is calling them to do. We are to live Spirit filled lives, and as we do that we will focus on Jesus. If our focus is on Jesus, we will see everything in the world around us in the right perspective.
Jesus is the one who picks us up when we cannot go any more. Jesus is the one running alongside us in the race (see Matthew 11:28-30). Running the Christian race requires endurance, perseverance, but with Jesus as our focus, he makes it so much easier.
This weekend we have remembered and celebrated the lives of those who ran their race for the glory of God while at our church and have set amazing examples for us. But now, we must run our race, everyone of us has a finite amount of time this side of eternity. And there are two ways we can use time; we can spend it, or we can invest it.
We spend time when we use it for frivolous things, on our pleasure and on our own temporal goals.
We invest our time living for the glory of God, living a life with eternity in mind, so that others will be drawn to Jesus.
How are you running the race for the glory of God?
How are you bringing glory to God in your finances, time, possessions and relationships?
Charles Stanley challenges us to answer three simple questions:
- The objective of my life is…
- The weight that I am holding on to is…
- The sin that so easily clings to me is…