How to Be a Winner in Life’s Big Race

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before….”  Hebrews 12: 1

This text is often used to describe living saints as being on a playing field with the stands filled with Old Testament people of faith and those who have since died with faith watching to see how we perform.

That misses the point. The Greek for witnesses is “martyres,” which at the time meant a witness. A witness is a person who testifies of what they have heard or seen. Therefore, the cloud of witnesses are people of faith who have preceded us testifying of the sufficiencies of the Lord. They are there to encourage us. Their declaration in summary is HE IS ABLE.

“Every weight” spoken of as applied to an athlete was to take off anything that would hinder the race. There are certain attitudes and actions we must put aside if we are to spiritually compete in the race of faith.

The sin which so easily ensnares us or besets us, is the one that is most appealing and enticing to an individual. Satan is no less a strategist than a brilliant military general who scouts his opponent to find the weakest point to attack. Satan knows yours, do you? Pause and contemplate that question.

The ancient Greek commentators, from whom we might expect some light on the phrase, seem to be entirely reduced to conjecture. Chrysostom, for example, adopts in various places two altogether different meanings, “sin which easily (or, completely) surrounds us,” “sin which is easily overcome.” To these Theophylact adds a third, “sin through which man is easily brought into danger.”

That is the one, or those are the ones, needing for our defenses to be built stronger.

Lay aside that sin. The illustration might be to a runner who refused to put off a garment which the crowd admired, though such an encumbrance must cause him to fail of the prize. This depicts a person’s sin the crowd approves of, actually admires. It gaining the wearer popularity makes it difficult to abandon. It is a you approve of my sin, I will applaud yours. Approval by others is a strong enticement not to abandon the popular sin.

Our example for running the race set before us is found in the next verse: “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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12: 2)

Keep your eyes on no example other than Jesus and run on — faithfully.