By Kevin V. Rutherford
To Christians who were beginning to drift away, the writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:35, 36) The Christian life has been compared to a long distance race (Hebrews 12:1, 2). Because this race is for a lifetime we must “. . .run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
There are some Christians who seem to think this marathon run is a one hundred meter sprint. They are active, zealous and energetic in the service of the Lord for just a short period of time. When it becomes difficult to remain in the Christian race, these sprinters fall out. They are like the rocky soil in the parable of the seed (Luke 8:13). The roots of truth and dedication did not run deep enough, which left the plant susceptible to destruction when conditions worsened. Christians have been prepared to run the race even when things become difficult. We must understand that being a Christian will not always be easy. We must be ready to push on no matter what may come our way.
Other Christians seem to have forgotten that this Christian race is a marathon race to the end of life, also. While they don’t see it as a sprint, they view it as a middle distance race. Maybe they think the race is only 1600 meters when in reality it is twenty-seven miles. It is easy for Christians to begin dropping out of the race when life becomes too busy. It is easy for Christians to begin to huff and puff and struggle when they begin to devote themselves to the riches and pleasures of life. These Christians are like the seed that had good, strong roots, but were choked out by the thorns (Luke 8:14). These thorns are the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life.” (Luke 8:14)
The Christians addressed by the book of Hebrews were those who had shown themselves to be very strong and dedicated at one point in their lives (Hebrews 10:32-34). However, time had taken its toll upon the church and Christians began to slip away (Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:13). They were not prepared for a long distance run. They had not dedicated themselves to run the race throughout the rest of their lives no matter how long and how difficult the race might have become. The writer of Hebrews, acting like their coach, told them about men and women in the past who had run long distances for the Lord despite much difficulties (Hebrews 11). Those who had run the race in the past are now figuratively cheering Christians on as we run the race (Hebrews 12:1).
I hope you are in the race to win. I hope you are in the race to complete the distance. If you don’t complete the distance you may as well have never started. When your spiritual legs are weary, when your spiritual heart is aching, when your spiritual lungs are heaving, and when your spiritual feet are tired, keep running. Don’t look back. Just keep running. Don’t give up. Just keep running. “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36)
- Kevin V. Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/