Running the Path for Christ
Are you a spectator, or running the race?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
When I was in college I played soccer for a team that was very successful. The men recruited were highly skilled players who understood the game. However, I quickly learned that no matter how skilled someone was, they really had no lasting value to the team if they were not willing to do what was necessary to stay in great physical shape. The same is true for the spiritual race that we find ourselves in as Christians. If we are going to be successful spiritually, then there are certain qualities that must be developed in our life, and each one of them is similar to what is required of an athlete.
What do I need to do in order to win a race?
Training to win a race or a contest requires three specific qualities – discipline, endurance, and sacrifice.
Am I just a spectator? Hebrews 12:1 says, “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…”
The first thing we notice is that we are in a spiritual race. Unfortunately, many Christians are not in the race, but are just spectators watching other Christians actually run the race. They have a nice seat in the stands, have bought some refreshments, and are sitting in the shaded area just watching everyone else run the race. They simply have not understood that the Christian life is a “race” that has been “set before us”.
The Christian life is described as a “race”
In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” So, it is critical that we understand what a race requires. Every athlete is someone who must prepare and train for their event – and that is not an easy task. When I played soccer in college, every day we ran several miles before even starting our practice. Why is that? It is because our coach understood that no matter how talented we may have been in our soccer skills, if we were not in shape physically then we would not have the kind of endurance needed to last an entire game. So, in order to develop that endurance, we had to maintain a high level of self-control and discipline. We had to carefully watch our diet, we had to get proper rest, and we had to train and workout every day. We had to have a mindset that was willing to endure the physical pain that was necessary to get into shape and stay there. All of this required constant sacrifices of how we spent our time and where we could go. Becoming what we needed to be to win the game simply required personal sacrifices.
Do I really want what Christ offers?
In the same way, every believer must understand the significance of developing spiritual endurance in their life. Just as training for a race is not easy, in the same way the Christian life is not easy, and it takes a high level of spiritual endurance that many Christians do not have and are not willing to pay the cost to have. We simply must exercise personal discipline and we must come to terms with learning how to lay aside those things that are actually hindering us in our faith and in our walk. Just like the committed athlete, this will require many different and personal sacrifices as well. So, the question that we must answer is simple – do we want the prize that Christ wants us to have? If we do, then we must develop the resolve, and determination that will help us make the necessary sacrifices to gain the endurance that we need to run the spiritual race set before us.
Pray this week:
Father, will you please help me to develop the spiritual disciplines, sacrifices, and endurance necessary to honor you with my life?
Do we have the kind of personal resolve and determination that should be driving our lives and helping us to be disciplined, sacrificial, and develop the endurance necessary to win the race set before us?