Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Today we’re going to all receive a kick in the butt from what is in my book, the most motivational passage in scripture. If this doesn’t get you going, nothing will.
It begins with being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Think a massive stadium full of people (no viruses in heaven), and you are one of the players on the field. The cloud of witnesses the writer is referring to is everyone mentioned in the previous chapter when he lists over 20 people by name who accomplished great things by faith — from Abel, to Moses, to Rahab, and right on through to the whole nation of Israel crossing the Red Sea and all those marching around Jericho to conquer the city when the walls fell down, to the early martyrs — all ordinary people flawed and timid and struggling like you and me, but used by God to build the kingdom — these are the guys who are right now cheering you on. You can’t see them; they are in another dimension; but they are there. If you had your spiritual eyes opened, you would see them.
Therefore, since these guys are all around us lending their encouragement through all the incredible things they did, what are you doing? Are you twiddling your thumbs, or are you running the race? Doesn’t matter if you are the tortoise or the hare, you are running as you can, and instead of being slowed down by so much baggage, you are throwing stuff off — stuff you don’t need — like that which hinders you. This could be bad habits, dysfunctions, unhealthy relationships, you know what these are, and the “sin that so easily entangles” — we all have a few of these. Get rid of that stuff; it’s slowing you down. You don’t need it for where you are going. And run the race with perseverance.
And for someone to emulate? Look to Jesus. Consider Him. Think about what He endured on the cross. And what kept Him going? It was the joy set before Him. He had His eye on the joy — the multitude of people saved by His death on the cross. It was the new covenant — the new arrangement for living He was establishing in His blood. Like that scene from The Passion of the Christ, when, bloody and battered, Jesus buckles under the weight of the cross He was made to carry up the hill to His death, and seeing His mother along the side of the road, He proclaims the last thing you would expect to hear at that point, “Behold, I am making all things new!”
What is the joy set before you? What do you yet want to accomplish? What is the great and future happiness you can call to mind when you are tempted to get discouraged or quit? Set that joy before you and keep it there. Write it down if you need to.
And remember, most importantly, that all this was and will be accomplished by faith. We do not accomplish any of this on our own. We do not gut this out by human strength. We do not pump ourselves up with a motivational speech. We do this the way everyone else did, by faith — by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. None of the heroes of the faith mentioned in Chapter 11 accomplished anything on their own.