In some of Paul’s letters to the churches, he used an example of an athlete competing in a race to metaphorically describe the Christian’s journey of life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul writes, “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”.
A few years ago, I watched a long-distance race with some top athletes involved. As the race started, I noticed that one of the runners got ahead of all the others and was yards ahead of them all. He was running so fast, but the others kept their pace and didn’t bother chasing after him. For a while, he was far ahead of the others, but one of the commentators asked, “what on earth is he doing?”. I believe his plan was to give his all to start off with and hope that by the time he starts to slow down, he would still remain in the lead to the end. What actually happened was, all the other runners who kept the slower pace eventually overtook him.
Similarly, while Paul encourages believers to run the race in order to obtain the prize, the reality is that the race is not a sprint, but a marathon of endurance. Growing in faith is not from an overnight feast of God’s word, but rather from a continual commitment to feeding on His word. Clinging to the hope we have in Christ Jesus is not only for a moment of joy, but it is a life-time commitment. Building the Body of Christ (the Church) by standing in unity and love, as we pursue the Great Commission is not only for a few years, but for a life-time. Each day, we are to put on the whole armour of God (Ephesian 6:10-18). Each day, we are to carry our cross and follow Jesus. Each day, we are to love and care for one another. Each day, we are to submit to the Spirit of God and be led by Him; and such daily commitment to run this race is not only for a few years but for a life-time.
Therefore, do not sprint to be burnt out. Do not get sidetracked by the world and then give up the race altogether. Let go of every weight of sin that would drain your strength to endure to the end. Above all, may your source of strength be in the grace of God through Christ as empowered by the Spirit.
“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” (Hebrews 12:1).