Athletes and onlookers alike understand the excitement of a race. Regardless of what sport it is, whether you’re watching the Olympics or a local meet, races offer a thrilling spectacle from start to finish. Just like an athletic event, Christians run a race, too, and they have plenty of spectators watching.
Every day, those who know Christ run a spiritual race to become more Christlike. The race begins the day you accept Christ as your Savior, but you don’t race against other Christians. Instead, you run a race against yourself to serve God and live according to his purpose. Like sporting events, Christians have plenty of people watching, and while running the race, you can show others your connection to God by wearing faith-based clothing.
This post helps you understand the spiritual race you’re currently running as well as how you can run the race in a way that glorifies God and has you finishing well.
Focus on Finishing Well
During a race, you see athletes jockey for position and realize that they use strategies to race and win. They don’t simply power through and go harder—they have a plan. Christians need a plan, too, if we want to run our race in a way that glorifies God. Specifically, the Bible reveals that Christians need to focus.
The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24–26 that many people run the race in an athletic event, but only one can win the prize. The Bible goes on to encourage Christians to not run aimlessly around but to run our spiritual race as if we’re focused on a prize.
Athletes on Earth race for perishable prizes, like medals and ribbons, but Christians run for rewards they receive in Heaven, such as the crown of life (James 1:12). The rewards a Christian receives can never perish and won’t end up in a dusty box in the attic. We will lay those rewards at the feet of Jesus while we enjoy everlasting life in Heaven with him.
We need to focus on those Heavenly treasures, and, as instructed in Proverbs 4:25, set our eyes directly in front of us. We should always be focusing ahead, just like any good athlete in a race. In swimming and running, where hundredths of a second define the winner from the rest of the pack, athletes lose precious time glancing around. As members of the family of God, we can focus on the future, the coming of Christ, and share his love with everyone so that they can join the race.
Just like athletes represent their team or country by wearing a uniform, we can represent Jesus Christ in a similar way. While our Christian-based clothing isn’t a uniform, it does offer a way for us to indicate to others that we belong to Christ while we serve God and live out his purpose for our lives.
The Need for Endurance
In a long-distance race, you need endurance, which requires self-control in all elements of training. From getting to bed on time or getting up for early workouts to staying properly hydrated or disciplined with nutrition, athletes keep all the components of their success in check. All racing athletes who want to win willingly sacrifice—lay aside—things that hold them back from being their best.
God wants us to be our best, and in being our best, we glorify him. However, we often find our race difficult to run when we face obstacles and discouraging circumstances. So we must run our spiritual race with endurance, the same combination of grit and self-control you see in athletes.
The Bible offers several ways to gain the endurance we need:
- Lay aside anything weighing us down (Hebrews 12:1). the Bible instructs us to lay aside everything that weighs us down, including sin, things that turn our focus away from our goal. So we need to examine our lives to see what things distract us from our purpose and what sins keep us from doing God’s will.
- Obey the Bible (Galatians 5:7). The Bible is God’s Word, and this verse indicates that other things or people may be keeping you from obeying the truth. Reading the Bible daily keeps you grounded in the truth, which keeps you running well.
- Have the right attitude about suffering (Romans 5:3–4). Admittedly, rejoicing in our suffering can be difficult, but if we focus on the end of the race, the prize waiting for us, we can rejoice that we are doing all things for God’s glory. The Bible tells us that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Now that truly is worth rejoicing about. Plus, when we rejoice in our suffering, we glorify God and reach others for Christ when our faith-based clothing directs onlookers to Jesus.
- Rely on God (Hebrews 10:26; Philippians 3:13–14). We are never alone in this race. God walks with us every step of the way and has promised that we can rely on him as we live out his will in our lives. Romans 12 tells us we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, which doesn’t refer to people watching us on Earth. Instead, it refers to the people of faith who ran the same race, finished well, and won the prize. Their examples of faith can encourage us while God renews our strength to go on.
As Christians, we should fight the good fight and keep the faith so that we finish the race well (2 Timothy 4:7). Staying focused on our heavenly rewards and what God wants for our lives helps us follow his will, but that can be difficult to keep in mind when we face challenges or obstacles to the path God has for us. We need to remember that we can only do God’s will because he gives us strength (Philippians 4:13), and our reliance on him makes us stronger and better rooted in his word and will.
God has promised to reward those who hold fast to his truth and remain steadfast even during suffering and trials (James 1:12; Philippians 2:16). In doing so we can be proud of the race we’ve run when we meet Christ in eternity. When we see the face of Jesus, our faith will be made whole, and we will know for sure that we did not labor in vain.