Q. I’m concerned about coming in last, if that is the right way to put it, when it comes to Hebrews 12:1 and 2. It would seem that not all believers are going to reach the “finish line” first. But I would think that most believers will want that. Please comment.
A. Hebrews 12:1 and 2 say, “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, 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.”
When reading this passage, some believers become afraid that they might drop out even before they make it to the finish line, so you’re not alone in this concern! But look at the passage carefully. It doesn’t talk about coming in first, last, or somewhere in the middle. We must view this race as different from a typical race in sports today. The passage speaks just about finishing the race. There is no order here, no beating someone else. God expects a believer only to finish the race (we’re dealing with life).
The similarity of the Christian’s life to running a race is connected to the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:7–12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), so we do need to be concerned about how we live. On the other hand, we must not wrongly condemn ourselves. Jesus knows our weaknesses, our limitations, and our capacities, so we must consider that fact too. Believers are not equally endowed in abilities, performance, energy, and longevity of life. All God expects of us is that we be faithful to Him.
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