Run the Race
Running a race can be daunting. It’s sweaty, straining, and pushes you to your limits. On the other hand, it pumps you with adrenaline, making you feel free and powerful. No one said that running is easy. It takes patience, perseverance, and passion.
This is also true for Christians in our race of life. One passage of Scripture that I anchor my life on is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
“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. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
You might be thinking that’s a really odd verse as a “life” verse. However, it is motivating. It holds me accountable and reminds me that what I do, how I act, and even how I take care of my body has greater purpose.
In this quarantined life, it’s much easier to go for that extra snack in the cupboard – for the third time. It is easy to get lost in binge watching TV shows. Are you dwelling on all the things that you shouldn’t be? Thinking about what you can’t do right now?
Here’s the thing. Everything you do matters to the Lord. We don’t have to be perfect. We don’t have to be “on” all the time. But we do need to be mindful of how we treat ourselves and others.
The way we treat our bodies is a reflection of the respect we have for the Lord, for His creation of us. What we fill our minds with shows the well-being of our hearts. How we choose to live out the information we learn about Jesus is a reflection of how grateful we are for what He’s done.
Paul wrote this passage explaining that he did his best to mimic the environment of the people he was with. If they were weak, he met them in their weakness. If they were under the Law, he respected their requirements. He could do that and be a shining example of Jesus because he personally had a strong relationship with Him.
Paul was grounded in every area of his life. Because of this, people respected him, which gave him the open door to share about Jesus.
Jesus was the same. He could hang out with tax collectors and sinners because He had a strong relationship with the Father. He knew how to withstand temptation. He knew what people needed to hear and how to love others, while maintaining boundaries.
I believe Jesus gave us Paul’s testimony to prove that it isn’t just the Son of God that can do it. We can do it too. But we need to have a strong foundation first.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)
If you want to reach the lost and hurting, you need to strengthen up your own “house” first. You need to “discipline your body and bring it under submission, lest after preaching to others, [you] should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I challenge you to take some time this next week and think about the four areas of your life – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Why do you do what you do? What areas would you like to work on? How’s your race going?