Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In our human weakness, we tend to act like the people around us. The writer of Hebrews uses this to help us. In chapter 11, the writer gave a long list of heroes of the faith, who persevered in serving God, even facing painful persecutions, and even though they didn’t receive any reward in this life. In v. 12:1, we are urged to picture these faithful people surrounding us, like a “great cloud of witnesses”. With them as our “peer group”, we will find it easier to “throw off the sin that entangles and hinders us”. Think about some of the sins which keep you from fully living for God. Maybe its your temper, your laziness, your desire to be popular or accepted by others, your desire to control. Now that you have Christ, you don’t need those things! You don’t need to be popular, or to get your way, or to “sow your wild oats”. Those things just get in the way of fully experiencing the greater joy of God’s love.