“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.”
Ladies and men, welcome to “The Race.” I know you’re probably getting tired of me talking about the race by now but we’re 23 days into January and something I keep realizing is the race doesn’t start or stop on January 1st or any other date! It’s all the time, every day in our lives so if anything I pray these messages about the race can be a huge encouragement to you as you run the race God has set before you!
This past Tuesday, I told you of the problems I’ve encountered so far in this race, the biggest simply being to stop cheering from the sidelines and run! The other problem I mentioned is getting caught in “the fog of life.” The busyness and craziness of our schedules, to-do lists, and lives, if we let it control us we can easily fall prey to that fog that hurts our vision. And if you haven’t learned yet, our vision is VERY important!!! Why?!? Because this race means nothing if we are not running with our eyes completely set on Jesus! If our eyes aren’t on Jesus, for one, we can’t run this race because we are not capable of doing so without Him, and for two, if we aren’t looking at the whole reason we run, why would we run in the first place?
Today, I want to challenge you once again and share with you this second problem I’ve had in running the race that God has set before me. Back to the root of the problem, it’s where our eyes are at, where we look to, what we spend our time focusing on and thinking about. Where our eyes are at is a direct result of what we believe and that will tell us quickly what we can achieve. If our eyes are on anything but Jesus, what we believe will be small and what we achieve even smaller because anything compared to Jesus is extremely small in the BIGNESS of who He is and what He is capable of!
The world gives us many options on places we can set our eyes. For some of us we struggle with placing our eyes on self, trying to run from what we got or not running and chasing what makes us feel good above all else. Others struggle with setting our eyes on things of this world as a means to get the job done, magic pills and super juices that give us “out of this world” results. Both are lies and both will cause us to fail, the only “out of this world” results we’ll ever see or experience comes only through Jesus because His person and His power is literally OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! Another thing we can set our eyes on is things of this world that takes our time and energy but aren’t that important, “the weight” mentioned in the above verses that we carry with us. These weights are used to distract us and keep us occupied to the point that we don’t spend time running this race, the only thing that holds any weight or importance.
All of those are possible areas we can place our eyes and find nothing but failure, emptiness, and promises that can’t fill the void we are seeking. At some point or another we all fall into placing our eyes in those areas but that’s why we’re here, to unroot the wrong so we can live in what’s right!
One area that we tend to place our eyes at times, an area that you probably won’t expect to hear and we often overlook, it’s focusing and setting our eyes on the “do.” What is this “do” I speak of???
It’s what all God has called you to do, whether that’s throwing off certain weights in your life and ridding yourself of those bad habits or if it’s picking up new habits that allow you to serve more and run better in this race. Either way, God has called us to do many different things that fall under the umbrella of running the race in the best possible way. What can happen though, as I’ve mightily struggled with this, is we can spend our time, energy and resources focusing so much on the “do,” the habits, goals, and resolutions God has called us to reach, in the process of that we take our eyes off the “Who” behind it all, which is Jesus.
This can be a dangerous eye problem for us because it doesn’t seem like we are doing the wrong thing, we are focusing on what God has called us to do right? What’s so bad about that? Well, it doesn’t seem bad until we tie up our running shoes, put on our favorite running jam in our heads phones and begin running. This is me and this is what I’ve done. What happens when the do is all we place our eyes on, we realize quickly that the “do,” these goals, tasks, and things God has called us to do, actually attacking them is REALLY HARD!!! Then what happens next? We become so overwhelmed at the weight of how hard this race is going to be, the hours of sweat and pain it’s going to take to get through, we become overwhelmed and scared at the sight of what looks impossible!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely great to be intentional and focusing in on what God has called us to do but at the root of our focus and intention has to be set on Christ and Christ alone. If we place our eyes on these tasks that are not easy, we can easily give up after realizing that we aren’t capable of doing them. We can become discouraged and give up on it all! Heading back to the sideline with fear of ever trying to run again!
This is why we can’t have our eyes consumed with the “do” because it’s impossible and means nothing without the “who,” which is Jesus!!! Focusing on the “do” and it’s impossible, but when we focus on the “Who,” we see that through Christ, anything and everything is possible! That’s why we need to keep our eyes on Jesus!!! That’s why it’s so important!!! Because without Him, we’ll just be another statistic of someone who runs the race in January, gets their gym membership and all that jazz then by February they’ve already given up! We have to start with our eyes and focus on Jesus because when looking upon Him, who He is and all that He is capable of in our lives, the race seems to fall into place! All that “do” that had us so worried, discouraged, and impossible, takes a turn and looks a lot different through eyes set on Jesus! He gives us all we need to not just make it through but to make it through as a champion alongside Him! There are so many verses that speak straight to this truth of focusing on the “who” instead of the “do,” but I’ll place a view here for you that struck me the most! It’s crazy when we move our eyes from the “do,” to the “who,” how the do becomes doable for the first time in our lives!!!
“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.”
““Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”