1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
and let us run
We “run” by throwing off hindrances. Running is the positive action and is set in contrast to the negative “lay aside.” No athlete can win without determination.
with endurance [perseverance]
Running a strong race takes active endurance that involves struggle, not passive patience (He 10:36; 11:3; Php 1:30; Col 2:1; 1 Th 2:2; 1 Ti 6:12; 2 Ti 4;7). This is steady determination to persist in Christian living. That is, we keep going no matter what opposition we may face. Our passage is not a call for a sprint but for a distance run. Staying power is essential to finish our life well. Every Christian faces difficulties, but he must press on regardless of the challenges he may face.
the race [agony]
God has marked out a race for every believer. The word “race” carries the idea of an athletic contest, and here the idea refers to a footrace. The idea is of a contest, speaking metaphorically of the Greek games. In biblical times, races were no more than three miles. The Christian race is not a passive jog but a grueling process. That is why it takes perseverance to live it. The word “race” means agony.
The Isthmian games were held in southern Greece in stadiums. The stadium had a raised platform at one end, at which awards were handed out to the winners. The prize for Christians is not heaven but reward for serving the Lord during the course of our lives.
that is set before us,
The words “set before” mean that God marks out the racecourse before us. Every Christian is to run the particular race that God has laid out for him or her. God has a plan or program for every believer. God chooses the tests for us; we do not have the right to make that choice.
Every Christian encounters stern tests of endurance.
A person who runs a hundred-yard dash does not need endurance; however, those who run a marathon need patience. It is not enough to run well for a short distance in a marathon. It is crucial to run the correct path, mileage, and finish line. The Christian runs the path “set before us.” There will be a temptation to quit due to the pain, but we must keep in mind the constancy of purpose. In the case of the Christian life, none of us knows the length of the course or the obstacles ahead. There is one thing we can know—our Lord ran the race ahead of us by endurance that came from His faith in the Father’s plan.
Christians are not to think of their pain, fatigue, problems, the possibility of failure, or how other people perceive their race. With bulldog stick-to-it-iveness, we persist in our walk with the Lord undaunted, undismayed, toward the goal God has set before us.
Some Christians hit a wall in running the Christian race. They may sit down right in the middle of the race or slow down. The idea of our verse is that we are to run the race of the Christian life so that we win (1 Co 9:24–25). Many Christians have stopped running to win. They put themselves on the sidelines waiting for heaven. That attitude gives up the plan God has for us. The biblical attitude is to endure whatever is necessary to live a complete Christian life (1 Co 9:26–27).
A life of faith conquers a life of self-sufficiency. Dependence on self will result in defeat; trust in God’s provisions through it all will result in victory. Christians cannot allow Satan to hinder their race because it has such eternal consequences.