As Christians, we are in a race. Not a physical race, but a spiritual one. While the world is racing for temporary dreams, wealth, and success, we are racing for a spiritual cause with far greater rewards. It’s a race designed by God, not man.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Life holds many races. Our ultimate race is to make it to heaven, but there are other races to run. It could be a race to receive healing in our bodies, recovery for our marriages, or provision for our homes. It could be as simple as obeying God every time He gives us an instruction. Each challenge or goal must be run with faith in God.
Just like a runner in a marathon, we can’t forget what it takes to reach our finish line. We must set our faces forward with determination, so we won’t be embarrassed by lagging in last place (Isaiah 50:7). God has given us all the guidelines we need to win, and as we put them into practice, we cannot lose! Let’s look at a few:
Run with the right motivation.
The world, without Jesus, runs their race for selfish reasons. But we are called to run someone other than ourselves—for God the Father. Jesus is our perfect example, and He ran to win a prize that ended in joy (Hebrews 12:2).
Run with focus.
There are plenty of distractions to keep us from running our race until the end. Like a cross-country runner, we must learn to maneuver the rough terrain. Physical weakness, life’s problems, negative emotions, and even other people can try to slow are speed and discourage us. Sin and temptation to fulfill our own desires are just as harmful to our race, yet we are called to overcome them all (Hebrews 12:2b, 1 Corinthians 9:27).
Run with endurance.
We will have many opportunities to grow weary in our race. But we can’t allow ourselves to succumb to weariness and give up. Like a runner, we must stay strong through plenty of fluids, exercise, and a healthy diet. The strength we need comes through a steady diet of God’s Word, prayer, and obedience to God’s commands (Isaiah 40:31, Galatians 6:9).
Run like we haven’t arrived.
No athlete has reached perfection. If we’re going to win, we must stay teachable with every race we encounter. We must remember to stay humble, knowing we have more to learn so we can grow stronger with each race (Philippians 3:12, 1 Peter 5:6).
Run without looking back.
Runners never win by constantly looking back. If we dwell on our past, we will never reach our checkpoints, much less our finish line. The devil will keep us in bondage by making our past look better than our future, or by telling us that we don’t deserve success because of the things we’ve done. God, however, wants us to focus on Him and the future so we can win our prize (Philippians 3:13).
Run for those who are watching.
Like people in the bleachers, the world is watching us. Other believers are depending on our testimony to encourage them to run their own race. Unbelievers are watching, too, wondering if this race we’re running is worth their commitment. God needs us to represent Him and point the way to the finish line (Hebrews 12:1).
In the end, our goal should be to cross the finish line with God standing to welcome us. The joy set before Jesus was the expectation of those who would follow the race He started. He wants nothing more than to see the ones He loves and died for to make it across the finish line to be with Him. Whether it be winning the race to heaven, or conquering one of life’s mini-marathons, our hearts’ cry should be to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23)!
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:12,13)