Do we run the race and finish the course? We should. That is the way we are to live our life of faith. The Apostle Paul fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith and received the crown we can be sure. He taught his disciple Timothy how to do that. And so he teaches us today how to run and finish the race set before us.
The Bible is full of admonitions and descriptions of the race. Metaphorically it speaks of a course like the suns, “Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, and its circuit is to the other end” (Psalm 19:4-5). We all know the magnificence of the sunrise and the sunset, yet the earth moves around it as it rightly courses through the skies. It is perfect and methodical; doing exactly what God intended to keep us alive and not burned or frozen out. And so should be our own race, although with many detours, bumps and bruises.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 talks of the wisdom needed for our race. “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong…but time and chance happens to them all.” We do not know our time, for we are as a vapor as James tells us. We have the present and do not know about tomorrow.
Run the race set before you,
I don’t know the pace to pursue.
But you make the way during the day,
Because the night is coming soon.
Don’t delay for we are way past noon,
And you don’t want to swoon at the moon.
Your walk is not to the swift or strong,
But to the One whose voice is strong saying,
This is the way to stay,
Walk on while it is day and pray.
“Do you not know that those who run the race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24). Paul is speaking of single-mindedness, determination and perseverance in our race. We need to be in condition to do so. It takes concentration and a lifestyle that is set apart from the world. Why? Because the world is only in touch with what feels good and may gain them traction in the culture or the bank. As Christians we must walk a different way, away from that or alien to it. Yes, this can bring suffering or persecution, but Jesus said that would happen. He said to put up our treasures in heaven or to be heavenly minded towards eternity. This is a lifestyle that will bring joy to the Lord and us in the long run. We have a cheering section in heaven, a “cloud of witnesses,” which will help us put aside the worldly things that bind. Then “let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We can’t beat the flood of immorality through political process. That is not our role. But we are to keep our eye on Jesus and our purity in it. Our primary roll is not to change minds, but speak the truth and bring hearts toward eternity as Jesus commanded.