‘…I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord…will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7–8 NRSV)
As Paul nears the end of his life he says he has been running in a race, but why does Paul use this metaphor for the Christian life?
Is it because he wants us to think that we are in competition with each other for the prize?
No! He says the crown of life is for all those who have longed for the appearing of the Lord.
He compares the Christian life to running the race because, like athletes that compete, we need to be trained and equipped to run the race of life well and with endurance. If an athlete hasn’t trained well, then they will fall at the first hurdle or collapse from exhaustion.
So what does the Bible say we should do in order to run well?
In Hebrews 12:1-2 the writer encourages us to: ‘lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.’
In order to run well we need to throw off the sin that so easily clings to us and weighs us down. God tells us to throw off sin because he loves us, not because he’s out to spoil our fun, but because he wants what is best for us and those around us.
However he doesn’t expect us to throw off our sin alone. He tells us to look to Jesus who was the author of our faith, he’s the reason why we are running the race, and he promises to perfect our faith. He promises to help us throw off what is hindering us.
When we see an athlete running in the games they have their eyes totally focused on what is ahead, on the finish line they are running towards. In the same way we are to keep our focus on Jesus, he is the one who died so that we can be forgiven of all our sin, so that we can have the prize of salvation, the crown of eternal life.
Jesus is the one who promises to give us all we need to run well, so the best thing for us is to do whatever it takes to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
To keep trusting in him and in his goodness and love for us.
To keep thanking him for what he has done in our race so far.
And to keep asking him to help us as we keep on running.
Father, may we turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, as we run the race together.
Have a good week looking to Jesus.