‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. ‘
2020 is here and as I mentioned last week, WE’RE IN A RACE!!!! What is this race I’m talking about? Why would we even feel the need to run it? With every new year we find ourselves making resolutions and goals on things we want to change about ourselves in the new year, with the goal of getting better! With all of the many challenges we could make to enhance our lives and make us better, the question I’ve found myself asking is why don’t I just focus on running the race with God this year? After looking at these verses speaking of “The Race” in Hebrews, it made sense that this should be our main focus and all the other little goals we make to be better, healthier, more in shape individuals will fall into place.
My biggest downfall with New Years resolutions in the past is in the fact that I’ve lacked purpose. I find myself getting all excited and hyped up, writing down goals, attacking them for a minute then to find myself one month in falling away from them, giving up completely and failing? I know I can’t be the only one who’s done that right? I have this burning question sitting on me, a question that has brought me to the point of wanting to not even try any resolutions or goals to get better because in the back of my head I know I will fail just like I have done so many times before. The burning question that has eaten me alive is simple, why do I fail at these goals? Why do I always come up short when trying to make changes in my life and get better? It has baffled me and it has caused me to come to a place of comfortable sideline sitting while the race is happening before us.
The number one thing that I’ve learned from failing so many times at running this race of life better and I’m excited to share with you today is this;
Why do we run?
It’s a simple question that without the answer we can find ourselves like many times before not seeing any point or having no desire to even run in the first place. If we don’t know where we are headed and why we are going there, why go? Think about it, why would we give our lives and focus in on running this race for Jesus when we are already comfortable right where we’re at??? Why would I want to run when I can sit here on the sidelines where I’m comfortable, I have my ways of doing things, my food, my tv, my phone, my routine, my hobbies, and overall just my way of doing life? I get that, it seems kind of dumb to fix something that doesn’t seem broken but what if I told you there was more?!?!?!?
More?!? Really?? What could be better than this nice comfortable life I’m living? I can sit here all day long and challenge you to run this race, hype it up and make it sound good but if you don’t see the purpose or the WHY behind running, why would you ever run? I want to be real with you because I have spent years getting caught in this struggle of comfort that is so easy to get caught in and blinded by, living in all of the pleasures the world offers us and thinking this is as good as it gets. I want to be real with you to let you know I understand that and I’m fighting through this comfort zone struggle with you. But knowing that God has greater in store for us, a life filled with and lived for so much MORE!!! I am excited to embrace this challenge with you and encounter our first BIG problem that we have in running this race;
What is our WHY? What is the answer to the question? WHY DO WE RUN THIS RACE?
Before we can even make that step from the comfort zone into the race, we have to be aware of the why behind why we run the race? Why it’s so important? And why it’s worth it? Knowing the why is what moves us from our comfort and into running this race of life God has set before us? Knowing our purpose is what drives us, motivates us, and fills our fuel tanks when they feel like they are on empty! The why allows us to push through and run to places in this race that we never thought possible, it allows us to experience Jesus on deeper levels than ever before. What is the WHY???
Looking at verse 2 of Hebrews 12, we see the example of Jesus enduring the cross. But also we see the WHY in why He endured this pain, WHY He willingly went through the pain and shame of the cross, the WHY to WHY Jesus did everything He did.
“who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,”
I’ll be honest, I read this and was clueless as to what this meant; “the joy that was set before Him.” What in the world does this mean? What is this “joy?”
After reading a commentary, my eyes were opened to see what this “joy” was that it’s talks about here. “Jesus looked right through the cross to the coming joy of bring salvation to others.” Jesus was completely fixed in His purpose to follow the Father’s will, Jesus set His eyes to the WHY, why would Jesus go through all the pain and shame that came with taking on the sins of the world and the physical pain of suffering on a cross? The answer was simple, for the joy that was set before Him, which is the joy His sacrifice and obedience on the cross would bring to other’s lives. The salvation that would come to others is what drove Jesus to do what He did, and while doing so, “despising the shame,” meaning that He was so fixed on His why, His purpose that God had called Him to, He thought so little of the pain and shame of the cross that He didn’t try to avoid it, instead, He ENDURED IT!!!
How awesome is it to know that Jesus endured all that for us so that we could have life and life eternally. Think about that for a moment, because of what Jesus has done we are now adopted as children of God, heirs to the Kingdom, who will receive the gift of eternity. And to think that Jesus has left us where He is now seated at the “throne of God,” with the mission to continue this ministry of bringing salvation to others. All the pain and suffering Jesus endured brought to us eternity, now He has set the same joy before us to be his hands and feet, to bring Jesus to others lives, His salvation and eternity.
So why do we run this race? Why do we move out of our comfort zones, into the uncomfortable, the pain and endurance it takes to run the race? Because of Jesus, the joy He has set before us giving us the gift of salvation and eternal life, we don’t just run for that which we have already received, now we run for those who haven’t, for those who don’t know Jesus, for those who are destined for an eternity in Hell because they don’t know another way, God has set in us a purpose to love Him and love others. To be obedient and live our lives as a sacrifice for the joy of bring salvation to the world around us. Just experiencing a small taste of this joy so far in my race, I am here to tell you that it’s more worth it than anything we could ever do. It’s a joy that fills us in ways that things and comforts of this world never could. This is why we run, don’t forget the WHY behind why we do all we do, because it will be the driving force in stepping out of comfort and running this race with radical abandonment for God’s Glory. Fix your focus on the WHY, and get off the sidelines watching the race, the WHY is to great and the impact is too eternal not to run with all we have!!!!
If you wonder why you’ve always failed to reach goals and run the race, maybe it’s because your why, or purpose was in the wrong place, maybe it was because your purpose was lacking from your focus, maybe you had no purpose. Well, now we are set in God’s purpose, we know the WHY, the joy that is set before us gives us all we need to endure the challenges and obstacles that come with running this race!!!!