ST. JOHN – For most Americans, the act of running is a necessary evil. We run to keep up with our children, to maintain health, to not be embarrassed in a swimsuit, or to justify our Thanksgiving feasting. Very few of us look forward to the grueling effort of training and perseverance necessary to be successful in a race. And yet as any serious runner will passionately explain, success comes only when motivated and driven by a clear purpose. Recently in the 2019 Boston Marathon, a former marine’s legs gave out forcing him to finish by crawling to the finish line. When asked what motivated him to not give up, he explained that he ran in memory of his fallen comrades saying, “They [his fallen friends] went through much worse, so I run for them and their families.” His purpose for running was what drove him, and it led to a greater significance than simply being the first to finish.
In a similar way, Scripture addresses the purpose and motivation in running the race of the Christian life. Paul uses the running analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:24 saying, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” This applicable illustration focuses less on who wins the race (all faithful Christians receive an eternal reward), but instead highlights why a Christian ought to run the race. To Paul, the purpose of the Christian life is to “run in such a way that you may win” and ultimately receive an imperishable prize (9:25). Our motivation is to one day come before the Lord and hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).
Until that celebration, honest believers understand that the Christian race is similar to the physical race – often long, difficult, and painful. Following Christ is not meant to be comfortable, but it is meant to be purposeful. Therefore, Christian, don’t give up the race until you’ve crossed God’s finish line. Regardless of your season in life, keep pushing to achieve the crown of life, knowing God’s not through with you yet. May our lives be driven to “run with endurance the race set before us” (Heb. 12:1), so that we might come to the end of our lives and triumphantly declare, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
(Jeremiah Greever is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, St. John.)