Examples That Inspire

Hebrews 12: 1 – 4

As athletes are inspired by examples of the greats who have gone before them and the encouragement of those who watch them, so we believers have such sources of motivation. Hebrews 12: 1 – 4 is an example of this intended to inspire consistent and persistent faithfulness to the Lord.

The “great cloud of witnesses” is a reference to those noted in Chapter 11.  The word translated witness, “martus,” means one who bears witness by his death.  These persons were not listed simply as spectators, but as testimonial witnesses to the fact that God will see you through.

They are not there to be inspired by our action, but to inspire us by their action, their living and spoken testimony.  It is as though they are shouting such encouragement as, “God enabled us to be winners.  He will do the same for you.  Press on to the finish faithfully.”

They testify that you can’t win unless you run, so get in the race.  They testify that if you are in the race, run with endurance – don’t quit.

As witnesses, they are testifying to God’s sufficiency and His faithfulness.  They, not we, are examples.

The “weights” are spoken of as things which are not necessarily sins, but they do restrict us.  Athletes take off their warm-up when it is time to compete.  There are some things that are neither good nor bad, but neither are they helpful.  Cut them out.  A great athlete doesn’t choose between the good and the bad, but the better and the best.  Anything that hinders your spiritual progress should be abandoned.  Judaitic ritual and tradition was hindering them.  What hinders you?

A weight is anything, good or bad, that weighs us down, diverts our attention, saps our energy, or dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God.

Also noted is “The sin which so easily ensnares us….”  Anything that entangles you will not enable you to be a winner.  Every person has an area of vulnerability, a sin which easily ensnares.  Identify it, and ask Jesus to help you win over it.  Put it off like an unwanted limitation. “The” means a specific one.

Now comes the basic nitty and fundamental gritty of the race.

There is an exhortation to “run with endurance.”  Anybody can enter the most difficult race.   It takes endurance to finish.  The Bible is filled with examples of people who started and did not finish, such as John Mark and Demas.

Race translates the word “agon,”and is the root of our word agony.  This was not a passive idleness being advocated, but aggressive persistence.

Victory comes as a result of “looking unto Jesus.”  He is the chief, the primary witness.  This book is written to help us keep our eyes on Jesus.  Of our faith He is “the author”, that is, the leader or captain, and “finisher,” that is, the perfecter of our faith.  Jesus has run the same race course you are on. 

“Consider”, that is, analyze your own life as compared to His.  It is when we get to feeling life is unfair and unjust to us that we become discouraged.  When you know suffering is normal and fits God’s plan, you are motivated by it. Before us there have been “martus,” ones who bear witness by his death.