Tips for an Effective Race

February 3, 2010 by Paul Chappell

In several days the Olympics will begin in Vancouver, British Columbia. Athletes from around the world will compete in various winter sports, each seeking a gold medal.

Throughout Scripture, the Christian life is often compared to athletic events, giving us insights into how we can finish our race with joy. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).

Allow me to share a few thoughts with you that I have been pondering this morning about the race the Lord has given me to run:

1. I must continuously look to Jesus as my goal.

In the Christian race, my main objective must never be the approval of men, keeping godly standards, or following a particular creed. While the encouragement of fellow Christians is a blessing, and biblical standards and creeds are needed, these are simply meant to be landmarks guiding me along my way to pleasing Christ.

Hebrews 12:1–2 admonishes us, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

2. I must focus on the race Christ has given me to run.

First Timothy 4:16 commands, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” If I become too concerned about the race of another church or pastor, I lose focus on the race that God has given me to run. I must avoid such distractions to maintain my own race that is spiritually, physically, and emotionally pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. I must create a sustainable pace.

The race God has given me to run is one that can be finished! In 1 Corinthians 10:13 the Bible promises, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

The race God has given me is sustainable if I am careful not to over burden myself by taking on responsibilities that are not meant of God for me. Opportunity does not always equal obligation.

4. Sometimes the Christian race is uphill and difficult to run.

It is during these uphill climbs that a runner needs an infusion of God’s grace. Jesus told the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul responded by choosing to glory in the infirmities and difficulties he faced, that he might know the power of God. The Olympic athlete may use Gatorade or even an oxygen bottle to regain strength, but we have the provision of the all-sustaining grace of God.

5. Sometimes rest is needed during the race of the Christian life.

It is important to remember that tarrying times are not idle times. Sometimes the Lord wants us to pull aside for a moment or a day just to refocus our gaze on Him and replenish our spirits in His Word before we step back into the race.

I am thankful for the joy of being a husband, father, pastor, and Bible college president. I enjoy teaching students how to build classes, soulwinning programs, and the ministries of the local church. These days I have been praying that God would use me to run a sustainable, godly, and Christ-focused race, that I might also be the testimony He has called me to be in this world.

I am praying the lap you are running today will be one during which you will know the grace of God and the joy of focusing on Christ!


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