Written by His Grace,

Kevin K. O'Connor

Feb. 2, 2003

Running the Race

 

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 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. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

 

I stand amazed at the spirit that God has placed within our hearts and its inborn desire to live. It seems that we were given the fire to fight for life and those things that bring us comfort. Unfortunately, our focus becomes attached to the temporary things of this life and not to those things that are eternal. It seems that those things that we find ourselves striving for are just the mile markers along the path to what our true goal should be. It seems that we all enjoy a good race where the prize is won by the one who goes over and beyond all of the others in their determination to get there first. We have no problem seeing honor and the prize given to this one person who learned how to push himself/herself that extra amount more than the rest. In fact, we usually stand and cheer for the spirit within this one who learned how to bring their bodies to such a level of accomplishment.

 

In the same way that we run for the things in this life that are here and gone, we need to run for those things that are eternal. God realizes that our physical eyes cannot see into the spirit realm and yet many of the things that our eyes can see depict spiritual realities. For instance, the heart of man to overcome difficulties in a race for the prize, the persistent work that bees and ants put forth in providing for the colony, the way a tree that is blown in half by a lightning strike can out of its jagged interior burst forth into new life, the compassion we feel for those around us that hurt.

 

Just like mile markers that are not the goal themselves but are there to help us along to our goal, so should be the things of this life. The spirit of man to fight obstacles to improve himself is good but if we're only doing it for this life, we've made that mile marker our final destination and lose the ultimate race; 1 Corinthians 9:25 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. To be a diligent worker is good too but again, if only for this life, it's totally useless; Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Whole Chapter: Matthew 16 In context: Matthew 16:25-27). Even if the heart of man that can feel the hurts of those around us, if only for this life, it stops short of the goal; 1 Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (Whole Chapter: 1 Corinthians 13 In context: 1 Corinthians 13:2-4)

 

Just as an athlete realizes that proper breathing will result in the maximum of oxygen for his/her muscles that they may excel beyond the capabilities of their competitors, so we need to realize that our spiritual breath received through prayer will enable us to stand in the hour of adversity; Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Whole Chapter: Luke 21 In context: Luke 21:35-37) Many times we as Christians find ourselves having the proper convictions to do that which is right before us but find ourselves running out of the wherewithal to complete the convictions of our hearts; Romans 7:14-25 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[3] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

 

So, just as the athlete who has determined to run the race and win needs to come to grips with the discipline that will be needed to give his/her body the extra edge to win, so we too need to come to grips with the fact that if we want to enter into Heaven with the gates opened wide extra discipline will be required; 2 Peter 1 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

I hope and pray that we don't just get into glory and have hardly any rewards to lay at the feet of Christ like the following poor soul; 1 Corinthians 3:15 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. I feel that we're all given various gifts and talents and each person is going to be judged with what we've done with our gifts. Have we used them unto Him with all of our Hearts, souls, minds, and strengths? Or, have we heaped them unto ourselves and buried them in the ground. I believe that the person given little can be rewarded much more than the person given much if he/she uses it passionately as unto Christ.

 

And, I hope that each of us can continue to focus intently not on the mile markers along life's way, but on Christ; Philippians 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

 

Thank God for the mile markers/victories along life's way, but thank Him more for the final prize of God in Christ Jesus our Lord! Let's press on by His Grace and win it unto His Glory, Honor, and Praise!

 

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