April 10 I Wednesday
1 Samuel 15-16
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” —Hebrews 12:1
The writer of Hebrews likens the Christian life to a race. There is a race to be run, but also things that entangle and divert us from running the race God has marked out for us.
The idea of the Christian life being a race is quite frequent in Paul’s writings. To the church in Ephesus, he says, “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me...” (Acts 20:24). To the Corinthians he writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize”
(1 Corinthians 9:24). To the Galatians, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7). And nearing the end of his life, Paul tells Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
The Christian life is not static. We do not come to Christ and from then on do our best to keep out of mischief in the hopes of getting washed up on the shores of heaven one day. The Christian life is much more than receiving salvation. It is a race, a journey with God in which there is development, movement, progression, and always further to go. It requires running the race with perseverance, and perseverance requires discipline.
Paul tells us, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air”
(1 Corinthians 9:25-26). In other words, we do not casually drift along, because inevitably we will drift away. This is the danger that is prominent in the letter to the Hebrews. It warns about turning away from the living God, about an unbelieving heart and being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. These things come into our lives subtly and gradually begin to take a prominent place, violating the purpose of the race God has marked out for us.
The letter to the Hebrews states three ways in which to avoid this: by being observant of those who live by faith; being sure of the obstacles that entangle and divert us; and most importantly, with the objective of keeping our focus on Jesus. He alone is our empowerment to run the race and win the crown that awaits every Christian who perseveres in faith.
Prayer: Lord, I cannot imagine a greater reward than to win a crown that comes from You. Help me to run the race with perseverance, holding steadfast to my faith. Thank You, Lord.