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. Hebrews 12:1.
In this text one of the public games so famous in Paul’s time is used to illustrate the Christian race. The competitors in the race submitted to a painful training process, practicing the most rigid self-denial that their physical powers might be in the most favorable condition, and then they taxed these powers to the utmost to win the honor of a perishable wreath. Some never recovered from the effects. In consequence of the terrible strain, men would sometimes fall by the racecourse, bleeding at the mouth and nose. Others breathed out their life, firmly grasping the poor bauble that had cost them so dear.
Paul compares the followers of Christ to the competitors in a race. “Now,” says the apostle, “they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” Here Paul makes a sharp contrast, to put to shame the feeble efforts of professed Christians who plead for their selfish indulgences and refuse to place themselves, by self-denial and strictly temperate habits, in a position that they will make a success of overcoming. All who entered the list in the public games were animated and excited by the hope of a prize if they were successful. In like manner a prize is held out before Christians, the reward of faithfulness to the end of the race. If the prize is won, their future welfare is assured; an exceeding and eternal weight of glory is in reserve for the overcomers….
In the races, the crown of honor was placed in sight of the competitors, that if any were tempted for a moment to relax their efforts, the eye would rest on the prize, and they would be inspired with new vigor. So the heavenly goal is presented to the view of the Christian, that it may have its just influence and inspire all with zeal and ardor….
All ran in the race, but only one received the prize…. It is not so with the Christian race. None who are earnest and persevering will fail of success. The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. The weakest saint as well as the strongest may obtain the crown of immortal glory, if they are thoroughly in earnest and will submit to privation and loss for Christ’s sake.—The Review and Herald, October 18, 1881.