Patience in the Race of Faith

I am a runner. Not everyone is. It takes a series of choices to run, especially on days when your feet kind of hurt and you knees ache a little. Sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it. What my practice comes down to is usually just taking the first few steps. My mind is set. I choose to go and I tell my body to move.

It comes down to those initial choices. The taking of the first steps leads the next thousand steps and before I know it I have finished a 3-mile course. String together a few runs and you can develop marathon-level capacity.

Hey, Oprah did it. This TV star, who got her first career break in Baltimore by the way, made a great deal about how she learned and trained to complete the Marine Corps event that’s held annually in Washington, D.C. She started from scratch as a runner, and of course her celebrity status and financial wherewithal gave her access to high-level trainers and nutritionists. She did, however, enter and complete the 26-plus miles that constitute a marathon. That is no small feat.

Christians are on the run, spiritually speaking. The writer of Hebrews tells us so. The discipline to make right decisions and the momentum that these good choices can fuel are brought before us as the letter winds to a close.

Stand in Endurance

The picture described for us in Chapter 12 of Hebrews is that of us being runners in the race of life. It is a race, the writer tells us, that is to be run with patience. We tend to think of patience as a character quality, something abstract that some have and some don’t have. That is an incorrect view.

Surely, we are living in world saturated with things that stir anxiety and panic. We become fearful and over-worried, and this happens mostly to thinking people. They see things and their minds immediately set about looking for a fix.

We, as believers, can learn patience – hupomone is the word used in the Greek text. Endurance in faith is the concept here; the word speaks of  the ability to stand in His rest in the midst of pressures. This can become a quality of our faith. The Lord wants us to see this as something that He, as Father, seeks to work into us.

In other words, God wants every believer to grow up into maturity. He allows us to face obstacles on every level to help us exercise what we’ve been shown. Thereby, we can develop faith muscles.

An engaged and loving father should purpose to train up his children in the way that leads to life, the way of Bible thinking and expression. This imagery is sprinkled throughout the passages of Scripture, particularly in Proverbs. Whom the Lord loves, He chastens and corrects (see Proverbs 3:11-12).

The first believers, the Apostles and the others who stuck close to Jesus, were commissioned to go and make disciples everywhere they went. “Disciples” are disciplined people of God. They are ones who are ever learning and discovering the depth of the life of God.

These kinds of people were to form the Church of Christ. This is to be our primary purpose with all that we do in our gatherings, our church services and study groups and fellowships.

There’s a gain that comes from godliness, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:6. The secret to this godliness is contentment, and contentment comes from content. Click To Tweet

There’s a gain that comes from godliness, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:6. The secret to this godliness is contentment, and contentment comes from content. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).

What’s inside us makes a difference. We have to put in the discipline to get the gain; we have to hear truth and read truth and talk about truth to experience its benefits.

Anyone who’s gone through rehabilitation after a surgery has experienced difficult and hard exercises. The restoration of right function to damaged parts of us takes time and effort. If we choose not to show up for rehab and put in the effort, we will find ourselves dependent and bound to people and devices to get through our days.

The Author and Finisher

How are we to run? Hebrews 12:2 tells us:  “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The structure of the sermon-like letter of Hebrews is masterful. The early portion gave us a steady diet of Jesus. We are shown all that He was and is and always will be. His eternality gets emphasized right away.

“I and my Father are One,” Jesus declared in John 10:30.  The Savior never tried to explain the nature of being One. He presented this as a reality and left it to us to believe His Word as Truth, and Hebrews reiterates this.

Hebrews starts with us being told of the Son and His activity in Creation. Then, we get the record of how He took on humanity and lived by its designs and limitations. He served and walked according to all the Law of God as the great High Priest who offered Himself as the Lamb of God for the sins of the world.

In Hebrews 11, we were given a record of those whose lives were characterized by faith that endured. These stories of Abel and Noah and Abraham and Sarah and others were told so that the believers hearing this letter read to them would have substance and evidence for their faith and hope.

Now we arrive at the application part of the message. Run the race. That’s what we are being told.

Set Joy Before Us

Each race, as we saw with the various people mentioned in Hebrews 11, has its own character. There are some simple instructions that work for every runner in this path to glory.

First, consider the audience. Surrounding us is a “great cloud of witnesses.” We are being asked to imagine the heroes of Hebrews 11 as they watch us. They remain unseen, but they cheer and rejoice as we continue on the road of faith that they helped to clear.

Next, “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us. …” Unburden yourself and purpose to love the Word and to relish the great peace that comes from being free from offenses and their effects.  Forgive as you have been forgiven; the refusal to extend forgiveness and mercy is the sin that easily gets us. Only by the Spirit of God can forgiving love be shed abroad in our hearts. Seek this power by simply asking for His filling.

Lastly, look to “Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.” The writer is asking us to reconsider all that we learned about what Jesus did in coming to live as a human being. This remarkable and wonderful and eternal salvation began with Him and it ends with Him. Jesus paid it all.

Salvation is total in the work of Christ, our Alpha and Omega, our Beginning and our End. We see Him as He is and we shall be like Him.

There was a joy that Christ saw as He lived His life. That joy was bound up in what He was to do at Golgotha. He endured all the indignity and crushing pain – physical and emotional – that came with the Cross. He had set His eyes toward Calvary because He knew that His being lifted up would draw all men to Him. The joy is that we are now fully welcome in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus finished the work so that His House would be full.  His design was for the Temple of His Body to be completed with every member joined to Him.

May we set this joy before us. Let us see the Finish, the Great Day of the Lord, with our hearts.

Yes, this world is being shaken. Sin and Satan run wild, but God is in control.

What are we to do? Think more and more about the Kingdom for we have received the “Kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

Grace is our portion, and the Lord is our Fire. Let us serve Him. Let us run with His patience and purpose.

 

 

 

Steve Andrulonis
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