I think when you are asked to represent God in front of other people, there are a lot of factors that come into play. Today I want to share with you what I feel it means to
Run Your Race
There are 3 types of races that come to mind when I think of running a race, at least 3 types that I personally have experience running in. Perhaps you have too because of course as I read through scripture, I find evidence throughout the bible that even the disciples had experience in these races.
The first type of race that comes to mind is a physical race. Like a 5K marathon type race. Just attending some high school graduations, I look around and I see many very physically fit youth and teenagers. My son plays football and they go through a lot of physical training throughout the entire year to prepare for the games. He is in the weight room at least 4-5 times a week and engaged in some sort of physical education at school and throughout the summer. Into our 20-30's perhaps we continue to hit the gym, but perhaps when our 40's come as it has for me, I find a decrease in drive to desire running races, or getting into the gym. I find weight gain is much easier than weight lifting and I find health magazines warn us of a decline in metabolism and how it becomes increasingly harder to maintain the physical appearance and ability as we did as a teen. These types of races are excellent for our physical appearance and are important to consider. The problem with these types of races however, is although there are a few 60-90 year olds still running marathons, the majority of us are declining in this area. The problem with depending on this type of race, is eventually we will no longer be able to run them.
Paul and perhaps Timothy may have related to this race when they assure us in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 of the New King James Version For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Do you suppose that he knew there was a better race to be run than just depending on the physical?
The second race that comes to mind and I'm very familiar with is what is commonly referred to as the "rat race". This race is often run by many people in many walks of life.
1) The dictionary describes this race as a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power. an exhausting, usually competitive routine.
2) The business dictionary describes this race as similar to rats in a maze that compete against one another to be the first to get the cheese. The cheese is a measly reward, yet the rats continue to compete for this small prize. When one refers to the rat race, one envisions rushed, unhappy people working long hours for little pay and little recognition. Or, they may have an inner motivation to "beat" coworkers to the next promotion or pay raise.
Being in this race, I found rat races typically means no work-life balance, no independence, high stress, lots of compromise and general dissatisfaction with life. The rat race also can also come with high stress that is often detrimental to our health. I've also found getting out of the rat race can seem impossible and one may lose hope that they will ever be able to control their own life or get ahead.
As you can see the issues with running this race are a selfish and pointless lifestyle. Sadly many of us run in them in many walks of life stepping over, and hurting other people along the way. We call it throwing people under the bus, or cutting them down to edify ourselves.
The disciples has issues as we sometimes do with falling into the Pharisee trap, entrusted with following God's law that we can become narrow sited, pointing out sin instead of helping one another over come it. We read in Matthew 7:1-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
The disciples also faced issues with this so called rat race. We read in Matthew 18:1-5 the question they have about who Is the greatest?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Do you suppose that Jesus knew there was a better race to be run than just depending on wealth or power?
Which brings me to my third and final race.
The spiritual race.
This is the only race, that I have found worth running to the end. This race is your personal race to run, yet it's not solely just intended for you, it's also for the body of Christ. Both those who are running this race with you and those that may join you along the journey. This race does not look like the physical race, nor does it look like the rat race. This race is both personal to you and edifying those around you. The race can only be run by you but can be used to influence and inspire others to run it with you. Each of you were given a unique part in this race, but also a part that fit perfectly into the whole. We find personal purpose in this race, yet we find that running it only amplifies a higher purpose. We know that we are perfectly and wonderfully made to run this race and we know that it's imperative to complete it. This race does not depend on our own ability or strength, our physical appearance, how much money we make or what our title is. It's not dependent on how strictly we follow the law or how perfect we live our life.
It depends on Christ only.
We find that this race is about unity and yet diversity in one body. We read in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 that
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
The reward for this...is not a measly one...it's an eternal one.
This race starts after all the rest fail. It's the race that begins with asking Jesus to be your running mate. This race is patient, it is kind. This race does not stem from envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. This race does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, this type of race keeps no record of wrongs. nor does it delight in evil but instead rejoices with the truth. This race protects all who run it, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This race never fails.