In high school, I learned a valuable lesson about the difference between know-how and know-of. I was part of the track team, and my coach asked me to fill in for a vacancy for the 400m race. My regular races were the 100m and 200m. I, of course, knew of the 400m race. I had seen other teammates run it before, and in my mind, it merely was four 100m races. It was only one time around the track. Indeed, in my mind, since I learned how to run the 100 and 200, I knew how to run the 400. As I think back to this educational event, I wish I had been familiar with 1 Corinthians 8:2 (NIV): “Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know!” In the simplicity of my know-of, I did not even know the 400m sprint’s reputation as “the dreaded long race.” Confidently, I shot out of the block and ran the race like it was a 100m sprint. I am convinced that in the first 200m and in 1st place, I probably secured every track scholarship ready to be offered by the college scouts at the meet. Around the 250m mark, those scholarships started to drop off as I dropped from first place into last place. It was clear to all watching and then to me, as the last person to cross the finish line by the end, that I did not know how to run the 400m sprint. Know-how is emphatically different from know-of.
Hebrews 12:1 speaks of a race that stands in sharp relief to all earthly track meets, from high school to the world stage of the Olympics. The spectators in the stands of this race are of a more excellent sort. They have given evidence of know-how. They have received their commendation by faith (Hebrews 1:2), making every gold first-place medal look like fool’s gold. In Christ, we are all running this race, which is not a sprint but a marathon; therefore, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). I wonder if the word “endurance” caught your attention. Eleven months into 2020 and on the other side of a contentious election, endurance seems to have turned into a deep weariness.
Are you tired of running the race that you didn’t choose, but that was set before you? We do not just know of the race from Hebrews 12. We also learn the know-how. What is the primary strategy for running this race we find ourselves in, brothers and sisters? How are we not overtaken with weariness in this marathon? We keep our eyes on the prize, which isn’t a medal: he is a person. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us 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” (Hebrews 12:1–2). You may be running a particular stretch of that race where your weary legs are screaming for you to quit. Let me commend a fresh look at Jesus, who provides the most excellent example of a race run well.
Lewis Guest IV, M.Div. ’15
Instructor of Bible and Theology
- Fresh glimpses of Jesus through preaching and relationships in the Body of Christ,
- Endurance for the global church,
- Strength for the students, faculty, and staff members at Bethlehem College & Seminary.