“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
America has set aside this day as a day of memory. Today we remember and appreciate those who have defended America, her ideals, and her freedoms on the field of battle. We remember, and give thanks for them and the victories won.
The Bible many times uses figures of speech to communicate important principles regarding the Christian life. Military engagements, and the preparation, armaments, and dedication are frequently used in this way. Our text uses another figure, that of athletic “combat” rather than military, but the implications are the same.
The writer addresses readers who are convinced of Christianity, but have less than the complete dedication necessary for victory. The “cloud of witnesses” are those faithful warriors discussed in Chapter 11 who endured great opposition, yet did so in victorious faith (I John 5:4), thus encouraging us on to victory.
The competition will not be quickly over. The word “race” (Greek agon) implies agony, as in a marathon. We are to run with “patience” (better translated endurance). In Greek, the verb tense of “run” points to a lifelong habit of running, and “patience” is intensive. This is an endurance race we are in!
To win, we must eliminate any “weight,” such as false doctrine or legalism or shallow commitment which hampers our efforts. And, we must repent of and confess any sin (any act of disbelief) which negates our faith.
In America, where opposition to the Christian message and influence has flourished in recent years, we are called to join an ongoing “battle,” not just for the waning freedoms we love, but for the souls of men. JDM