Never be a Quitter
Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
As a man and his friend were having coffee one morning, their conversation was continuously interrupted by the friend’s coughing. As he was finishing his coughing fit he lit up a cigarette. The friend said, “Man you sound like you are hacking up a lung, maybe you should consider quitting smoking”. The man with the sick cough simply smiled and said “My mom told me to never be a quitter”.
Well, this is a joke that shows the smoker’s resolve not to quit but I want to use that phrase never be a quitter for today’s message title. – Never be a Quitter.
There is a saying that goes ‘A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.’ Yes, the devil wants us to quit and lose the reward of following Christ but God wants us to finish the race successfully. God has given us the Bible that guides us with tips to run our race efficiently.
This morning we are going to see how we can successfully run our Christian race and we will also look at the reward of finishing the race successfully.
When people quit following Christ when the going goes tough they can become an object of ridicule and discouragement to others. They in turn lose their reward. Hebrews gives us 5 words of advice to run our Christian race faithfully and successfully.
Hebrews 12:1-3 1Therefore, 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. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
1. Be inspired by those who have gone before
Hebrews 12:1a 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.
Illustration: Ishant Sharma, the Indian fast bowler had a great start as a bowler. Then he went through a rough patch in his career. People thought he is past his best. Then, he sought help from retired international blowers like Wasim Akram etc who helped him come out of his rough patch. Today, he is a great bowler again.
We also go through tough, trying times in our Christian life and the Bible says we too are to get inspiration from the people who have run the race before us. The old heroes are the witnesses or audience in our Christian race. Take inspiration from them.
Now, Hebrews 12 begins wit the word ‘therefore.’ This obviously connects with the previous chapter. In Hebrews 11 the writes gives us a long list of people who have been faithful in their race and have won the race.
Hebrews 11:7 tells us of Noah. Remember Noah. He spent 120 years of his life building an ark – Yes 120 years. That is a lot of time, a lot of patience.
I can hear Noah whispering to all of us, – “How long have you been waiting for something? It took me 120 years to build the ark, it was never easy. People mocked at me, they asked me are you sure you really heard God? I kept building the ark for 120 years and finally the floods came and I and my family were saved. So, you need to keep on doing the good work, do not stop, do not quit.”
In v8 we see Abraham
God called him out of his father’s house.
Today, Abraham is whispering in our ears when you follow God others will think you are crazy but hold on God will fulfill all his promises on you. Don’t quit.
In V22 we have Joseph
Joseph was sold into slavery
Joseph is telling us be faithful to God when things are not going your way. When you are discouraged, accused, face failure never quit. God will lift you up.
The list goes in Hebrews 11 of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, the parents of Moses, Moses, the people of Israel, the prostitute Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. They have all run the race successfully and they are telling us never quit, don’t lose heart, don’t give up.
Note: Now, our inspiration comes from not only the heroes of the Bible but also godly people whom we meet on a regular basis. I have a lot of people to name who have inspired me and still does.
When we are inspired by the biblical heroes and all the godly people who have either gone before us or are living alongside us, understand we too are an inspiration for someone else. Our lifestyle, our conduct, our words are an inspiration to others who are looking at us. So do not quit because if you quit there are chances that they too can quit.
2. Throw off everything that hinders
Hebrews 12:1 let us throw off everything that hinders.
In this passage the Christian life is compared to running a race. It is not the 100 m sprint race that we think about. Christian life is compared to a marathon race. In a sprint race you run as fast as you can for a short distance and speed is the critical factor. In a marathon race endurance is the key factor. Will you make it all the way to the end?
We cannot run a race having a lot of baggage on our back.
Illustration: Everyday I see a lot of joggers on the way when I come for the morning prayer at our church They dress very lightly and they do not carry any weight that hinders their jogging.
Imagine running with an overcoat or a heavy boot, it is difficult. We too cannot run our Christian race with baggage that hinders us.
The weight that hinders us from the Christian race may not be sin in itself. These are the things in our lifestyle that slow the pace of our race. It can be a friendly relationship that you spend too much of time on. It can be habits, hobbies, or TV that may not be sin in themselves. But they are time consuming and distracting our focus on Jesus. Let us throw aside everything that hinders us.
Illustration: An eagle was shot dead by a hunter. When he examined the eagle he found that one of its claws was held firmly in a steel trap which had a 5-foot chain. The chain and trap did not prevent the eagle from flying but the additional weight had made the eagle tired and brought it down within the reach of his rifle.
What happened to the eagle happens to us if we do not throw off everything that hinders us.
Hebrews 12:1 let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
3. Get rid of sin that entangles
Sin is entangling. Sin starts with just a lie, just a puff, just a drink, just a thought, just a look, just a touch and even before you realize you are completely entangled in it.
Illustration: In Popeye and Bluto cartoon, Popeye is often entangled by Bluto, tied by a rope or put down in the sea. We think it is the end of Popeye but thank God for the spinach he has. After eating the spinach he cuts loose all his bondages, defeats Bluto, and sets himself, Olive, and Sweet Pea free.
Thank God for the blood of Jesus and the Word of God that can free us from all sins.
4. Run with perseverance
Hebrews 12:1 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.
Illustration: There are 2 things that are crucial for a marathon runner. The first is the start. When you begin to run you feel good and the temptation is to run too fast too soon. Such runners spend all their energy in the first lap and do not get to the finish line.
Some Christians are like this. They started their Christian life with great enthusiasm but they do not finish the race. We can see people all around who have quit the race.
The second crucial time for a marathon runner is the half way point. You suddenly realize that you have the same distance to cover and you are already very tired. The runner feels that he will not be able to finish the race. But the real heroes persevere even though they do not have much strength. They take one step at a time and reach the finish line.
It happens in our Christian life too. We have come so far, fought tough battles but now we are stuck up in a situation where we do not know if we will make it to the end. We feel like quitting.
See what the writer says: let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
5. Focus your attention on Jesus
Hebrews 12:2-3 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus was opposed. Jesus was persecuted. People made fun of Him. Yet he stayed the course. Jesus ran the race. Jesus paid the price and finished the race. Fix our eyes on Jesus because he is the author and finisher of our faith.
It is very easy to quit but God rewards who is faithful until the end. When you feel like quitting just look at Jesus. Be inspired by those who have gone before, throw off everything that hinders your race, get rid of the sin that entangles us, run with perseverance, and focus on Jesus.
See the statement of Apostle Paul made towards the end of his life.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
He not only started the race but ran the race, ran it well, and finished the race. May God give us the perseverance to run our race of faith successfully? Understand winners never quit and quitters never win. God Bless You.
This sermon belongs to the series Uncategorized. Other sermons in this series: