Hebrews 12:1,2 says, “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”
The Greek word “martus” translated ” witnesses” is the origin of the English word “martyr” and means “testifies, witnesses”.
Here, Christianity is compared to a long distance race and we need perseverance to finish it.
This letter was written to Jewish converts who were familiar with the Old Testament and were being tempted to revert to Judaism or to Judaise the gospel.
The witnesses are the heroes of the faith who were mentioned in Hebrews 11 and they are our inspiring examples. Examples of some of these heroes are Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph , Moses, Gideon etc. They and others through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, were tortured, had trial of mockings and scourges, chains and imprisonment, were stoned, sawn in two, were tempted and slain with the sword. Their work on earth has been done. Now the baton has been passed on – to you and I.
To run this race successfully we need to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
We can take comfort in the fact that this race has been marked out for us. The Lord directs our steps and our stops. If He has brought us to it, He will bring us through it. God says, “This is the way, walk in it.”
The definition of “perseverance” is “the steadfast pursuit of an objective” or “the constant persistence , for example in a belief ”
Throwing off everything that hinders is like someone in a hot air balloon throwing out everything that’s heavy so the balloon can rise. Everything that gets in the way of serving God needs to go.
The Christian life is not a short sprint – it is a long distance race and we will need perseverance. There will be peaks and troughs. Despite all that, we need to keep going. Just as a runner concentrates on the finishing line we need to concentrate (fix our eyes on ) Jesus.
It will be worth it in the end!
Hebrews 10:36 says “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”