“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
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At some point, you’ve likely heard life being described as a race. In fact, the Bible compares it to a race numerous times, though the race is not so much a sprint as a marathon. We have all been called to run, and we are encouraged to run well. Here are three principles that can help us apply this analogy to our lives:
Preparation: Every runner must get ready for their own race. That could look like a first-grade student tying his shoes extra tight, a middle-school P.E. student taking extra time to stretch before a shuttle run, or a track athlete who prepares throughout the day by drinking plenty of water and eating healthy snacks. Runners who are serious about their race prepare mentally, physically and emotionally. They get ready.
The question must be asked then about our spiritual lives: Are we ready? Have you prepared well for your race? Was there a moment when you confessed your sins to God and accepted Christ as your personal Savior? That’s the first step! Then look to the Word of God as the ultimate guide to prepare you for your own unique spiritual race.
Rules: Every race will have rules specific to that event. For example, a relay race will have certain guidelines that all four runners must adhere to. They must stay within the exchange zone while passing off the baton; a runner who drops the baton will disqualify the whole team. While it’s so easy to view rules as something negative, they are typically intended to be positive. Rules are established for order, peace and accountability.
God also has rules for His people. In Exodus 20, God gives Moses the “rules” for Godly living: The Ten Commandments. In the New Testament, Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, and He responded, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus made the most important rule for believers very clear: Love God and love others! Let’s not complicate that.
Rewards: I will never forget receiving a first-place trophy at 9 years old when my baseball team won our championship game. I remember being so proud of that trophy as it sat on top of my dresser for almost 10 years. Trophies, ribbons, medals and certificates are great rewards used to recognize accomplishment. Our Heavenly Father wants to reward you too. But His rewards are far better than any of these earthly rewards that we collect. The Bible reminds us that material rewards and possessions will rust and decay, but our spiritual rewards will last forever (Matthew 6:19-21).
God’s race for our lives is not one that requires striving out of our own strength to keep up and hoping to achieve a prize. As we keep our eyes on Him and fill our hearts with His Word, He will surely guide our steps and remind us of what is most important. And we’ll find that His rewards are worth more than anything the world could offer.
Prayer: “Dear God, I pray that I will run well the race You have set out and planned for my life. May I bring honor and glory to You.”
— Jim Good
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