I think my favorite time of the year is fall. I love it because the temperature is just right, the leaves change to beautiful colors, pumpkin pie mysteriously appears and not to mention Thanksgiving. I think, though, that I love football more than any other part of it. I love to watch the game—I love to talk about it, and I love how excited people get about their favorite team.
People, as far back as recorded history goes, seem to have had some fascination with athletic competitions and sports. People are fascinated at what we can put our bodies through in order to achieve a goal or to overcome incredible odds. It seems that the Apostle Paul, from the Scriptures, was also an avid fan of the Olympic Games and other athletic contests. It seems, from his writing, that his favorite event was running.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize”
-1 Corinthians 9:24
What does he mean by saying we should run a certain way? Won’t all running get you there? Won’t you end up there eventually?
Paul uses sports illustrations many times to get his point across that the Christian life is not about who runs the fastest—no this is a different kind of athletic event than the people were used to. This one involves setting a pace and keeping to it. Here’s why: If you start out sprinting you will tire halfway through the race and end up losing. If you walk the whole way, you’ll be overtaken by the enemy and crushed. That’s why a steady jog is the pace of the Christian life. It enables us to keep going further, longer, and harder than if we expended all our energy all at once, or not at all.
Remember, this is the most important race we’ll ever compete in. It is not something to take lightly because we do have an enemy who would love nothing more than to tire us out and force us to quit, or just put forth the minimum effort (which to God, minimal effort isn’t good enough). The Hebrews writer also says this,
“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.” – Hebrews 12:1
Sin is also something that will disqualify us. Think of sin as an untied shoe-lace. You don’t notice it until you’ve tripped over it—but with sin, we have to be vigilant and jump over it or dodge it—keep our shoes tied, so to speak.
So I ask you: Have you been training? Are you running the race? Are you vigilant of Satan and his tricks? Is there a sin hindering your race? Is something weighing you down? Remember, your eternity depends on how you finish this race, so make sure you throw off all the junk that holds you down and keep your eye on the prize: Jesus Christ. Just something to think about this week.