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 us, 2 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 12:1-2

A friend who is a marathon runner recently told me of a recent competition. He said there was a pacer who told all the runners behind to follow her pace and all would finish. Soon a runner who was a star athlete decided to out run ahead. As he passed the pacer she said, “We will see you again.”

Sure enough a few miles down the course the group passed the winded athlete who crossed the finish line forty-five minutes after the original group reached the end of the run. My friend commented that the race was a marathon, not a sprint.

The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. It is easy to get distracted, but we need to remain disciplined. Like the author of Hebrews says, so that we do not grow weary in the race, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is our pacer and we need to stick with him and not run ahead.

The Christian life is a lifelong race that entails some long hills to climb and some swampy marshes to plod through. To make it to the end we need to get in shape and run the race at the pace our Savior sets.

In a marathon, it’s not the first mile that counts. Finishing the course well is everything. It takes a sustained effort. Our spiritual life required no less. We are competing against the enemy of our souls, who opposes God’s kingdom and wants us to drop out.

In the race of our spiritual life, we must lay aside every encumbrance that holds us and lay aside every sin that so easily entangles us. We must run with endurance the course God sets for us.

This is what Jesus meant when He talked about counting the cost of following Him (Luke 14:28-33). Before you make a glib commitment to be a Christian, think it through. Are you willing to put out the effort, the sweat, the endurance, and the pain of going the distance? Jesus himself is the motivation to keep us running.

The main way to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” is, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”