Hebrews 12: 1,2 says,
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.
Here the writer compares living the Christian life to a race. Personally, I am not much of a runner. I am more of a plodder. I plod along in life. Plod...plod...plod. Sometimes that is what it feels like we are doing in the race. Don't worry though, plodders reach the finish line as well. The key word in verse one is the word "endurance".
Sometimes when running the race we get knocked down in the dirt. We just have to get up, brush off the dirt, and start plodding (or running) along again.
It's Not Just a Race, It's a Battle
I am reminded of a scene in one of Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movies where Rocky is getting pummeled by his opponent. He's hollerin', "Go on. Hit me. Hit me again. You ain't so bad !" He then proceeds to knock the tar out of his opponent and win the fight. Remember when you are in a fight with one of your enemies, the world, the flesh, or the devil, you stand with all the power of an almighty God behind you. Put on the armor listed in Ephesians 6, take up the shield of faith, and start swinging the sword- the Word of God. Fight back, knowing you are fighting from a position of "already-attained" victory. Christ attained it at the cross.
Send Out Encouragement to Others
When I was in Bible college, we used to send each other what we called, "encouragement cards" through the campus mail. They were just small postcards on which we wrote notes of encouragement to our friends. If you know of someone going through a tough time, I suggest you send them an email or postcard of encouragement. I know those little cards meant a lot to me when I received them. These days I receive encouragement emails from people and am thoroughly thankful for them as well.
By the way, here is the response I received from Dave regarding the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV):
Your questions about the ESV are "ringing my bell." I believe the ESV is the best translation available today. And the study Bible is the best in print. I've been using the ESV almost since it was published. I highly recommend it to my students and friends, give copies to new believers and gave one of the study Bibles to a man I'm discipling just now.
Don't let the reference to a "revision of the RSV" distract you. It's a fresh, evangelical translation attempting to provide a word-for-word translation from the originals with a smoother reading pattern than that of the NASB. The latter is a good translation but was always deemed as too stilted and "wooden" for public reading. It's a reliable translation but never really caught on. The NIV is a "dynamic equivalent" translation. It attempts to be true to the original but is more concerned with readability than with word-for-word accuracy. I also have issues with some of the English terms chosen to translate Greek terms. For example, 1 Corinthians 3 uses the term "worldly" instead of "carnal." There is a huge difference because of two different enemies. In 1 John 4 they use the term "atonement" instead of "propitiation." Atonement is an Old Testament term that means "to cover." Jesus' blood didn't cover our sins, He washed them away. Those are two specifics. I used the NIV for preaching for many years but have never been as satisfied with a translation as I am the ESV. I trust the scholars, their scholarship, their attention to detail and their attempt to provide a literal translation. Do I agree with every choice of English terms? No, but the quality of the translation is not diminished by that, and I can make the interpretive correction when I'm in a particular text. -David Drullinger