Our Focus Determines Our Finish

By Jarrett Stephens

All of us want to finish strong. All of us desire to finish well. I’ve not met one person who has ever said, “You know what, I want to live for Jesus all my life and then at the end just blow it completely.” Or, “I want to make a decision for Christ, but I don’t plan on living it out. In fact, I want to just back away from it slowly and one day pretend like an encounter with Jesus never even happened.”

No one says that. No one wants that. Yet, we have all seen people in different stages of life get off course. They lose sight of what is most important and fail to continue in what they started so strongly in.

Hebrews 12:1–3 addresses how we finish strong.

The writer wanted the Hebrew Christians to finish strong. He communicates to them here in Hebrews 12 that their finish will be determined predominately by the strength of their focus.

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. —Hebrews 12:13

The writer of Hebrews paints a beautiful picture here of the Christian life being like a race. This race is no joke! It’s got a lot of ups and downs and a ton of twists and turns. How can we keep our focus in a race like this? How do we not just finish, but finish strong? I want to suggest three ways.

  1. Look around.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.… — Hebrews 12:1a

The writer just spent the entirety of chapter 11 writing of men and women throughout the Old Testament who had lived by faith. They made decisions that were based on great faith. He states here that these men and women are “witnesses.” They are surrounding these Hebrew believers as they attempt to run their race. Each person named and unnamed in Hebrews 11, has finished his or her race. That’s important! They know what it is to complete the marathon. That’s good news for us because they are given as examples. If they can finish, we can finish.

It is clear these witnesses have finished their race and they are an example to us. Also the insinuation we take from how this text is written is that just as they surrounded these believers, so, too, are they surrounding us, looking on as we run our race. Now, I just want you to think about that. People have gone before us and have run this marathon. They have finished it and are looking on! This should give us great encouragement.

  1. Look ahead.

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. —Hebrews 12:1

There is a race that is set before us, and we are to run it with endurance. This goes back to the purpose of the entire letter. We are to never quit!

And the only way we do this is if we put our mind and our focus on what is ahead of us. That is our race. Notice; we are not looking to the right or to the left. We’re looking ahead to the finish.

What about you? Is your focus as you run this race on what is ahead of you? Or, is it like so many I notice today who are busy competing with who’s on the right and who’s on the left? “What is he doing?” or “What is she doing?”

Many of us aren’t running in a way in which we will wind up finishing strong because our focus is not on what’s ahead in the race that is set before us. Instead, we are focused to the side looking at the race that has been set before someone else. We can’t focus on our race if we are focused on someone else’s.

  1. Look above.

This, of course, means we look to Jesus.

… 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. — Hebrews 12:2–3

Our focus needs to be on Jesus. We leave our sin and other weight behind. We lay aside those things and we look above to Jesus! This is what keeps us going! Our focus is on Jesus. Focusing on Him makes the laying aside of weights and sin pretty easy! When we look above to Him, those things we lay aside will sometimes seem so petty and small. Jesus is the “author and perfecter of our faith.” It just makes sense to look to Him and focus on Him in order to finish strong.

Our focus determines our finish.

When you focus on these things, you will have the strength to finish well.

Jarrett Stephens serves as Teaching Pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. Follow Jarrett on Twitter: @jarrettstephens

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