Hebrews 12:1-3 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
I was watching a PGA golf tournament recently where the leader was playing in his home country. It was a major tournament. It was a victory that would seal, even at the player's young age, his inclusion in the record books of the annals of professional golf. Competition was fierce, as it always is in these events, but he had an edge. You could tell that from watching. The crowd was with him, cheering him on. They wanted to see him win.
And he did.
In his comments to the sportscaster's questions about what got him through those last difficult holes when his challenger was gaining ground, he said it was the people who were there. "They kept me focused," he said, humbly. "I wanted to do it for me, but even more, I wanted to do it for them. I wanted to do it for all those who supported and believed in me. This victory is as much for them as it is for me."
While golf is only a game, it's somewhat exceptional among sporting events in how it pits the player against so many variables: his confidence level, tournament jitters, head games, and the like—not to mention the weather and the course itself. Still for the tournament winner above, he found his edge in doing it for others.
Perhaps, as Christians, we can take a lesson from this. There are many who have walked the walk of faith before us, and who do so now, alongside us. This "cloud of witnesses" both encourages and uplifts us to endure the race we run. Has there been a teacher or counselor whose spirited words have more than once rung in your ears when you faced an option to quit? Has a child shown you—as only a child can—that you did the right thing? Has the thought of letting a spouse down checked your thinking and lifted you to a higher standard?
These are witnesses in your life. Your performance matters to them. What you do and how you live speak volumes as both an encouragement to them and as a testimony to "the Founder and Perfecter of our faith." His Name is Jesus, our Champion—the One who gives us strength, so we do not "grow weary or fainthearted," as we carry forward the mission He gave us.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, through the ages Your sons and daughters of faith have left a wonderful witness for us. Let us do the same for those who are counting on us. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. Have you ever been in an event where a crowd was cheering you on? What was it?
2. How does looking to Jesus—knowing what He endured—give you strength to press on?
3. Are there people you regularly encourage?
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