With the 2012 London Olympic Games taking place this summer, I was challenged to focus on Hebrews, chapter 12.
In the first 13 verses, the writer of this letter to Jewish readers draws on a sporting picture that would be quite familiar to people in New Testament times.
Here is the well-known first verse of Hebrews 12:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” (NLT)
In a six-week series at Albion Free Church, we examined the Olympic champion mindset and then suggested some beginning steps for spiritual champions each week.
Believers with a “go for the gold” mindset:
• remember the witnesses. They keep in mind that outstanding spiritual champions from the past are in that heavenly crowd of witnesses, leaving us an example to emulate. This generation needs to familiarize itself with what earlier Christians accomplished.
• remove any hindrances. They don’t go about training for the race God has called them to run with all kinds of distractions pulling at them. They’re especially careful regarding sins of long-standing.
• run with perseverance. They expect that their calling is going to require some tenacity, some sticking in there. So, they don’t give up the first time they feel thirsty, or get winded, or have a cramp.
• rivet their eyes on Jesus. They not only agree that He set a marvelous example, they train their minds to return repeatedly to Christ and His work on their behalf.
• respect divine discipline. They’re grateful that a loving heavenly Father doesn’t let them get by with inappropriate behavior. And when there’s a conflict of wills, they submit to His greater wisdom.
• recover from injuries. They identify their injury, they determine a reasonable amount of time for healing to take place, and then they follow a program of rehabilitation.
It’s not hearers of the Word who are heroes in that great crowd of witnesses, it’s doers of the Word.
The 2012 Olympics are now history, but the memories are still fresh. You are someone who could be going for the gold, spiritually speaking.
Tell God in your prayers, “That’s the kind of person I want to be! I want to go for the gold!”