When I was a teenager, I loved to run. Competitive running pushed me to succeed. But my school didn’t have track and field. I waited all year in my gym class until the President’s Challenge. I practiced over and over to run the mile in record time.
The greatest lesson I learned as a runner was that I don’t run against anyone else. It was hard to keep in my mind that I competed to beat my old records. As I passed other runners and other runners passed me, I developed the mental toughness to think about my race.
That’s one reason they separate the lanes. Tunnel vision helps the mind to remember this principle. Pace setting is the key to victory in running. The moment my race became about. passing people, I failed.
A victorious runner knows that he races against himself. Every time I ran I tried to set my pace a little faster. The battle was within. If I beat my time for the last run, I knew I was moving toward success. The race is personal and I am my competition.
Christians risk their own race when they don’t learn these principles from running. Humans are by nature competitive. We want to be the winners. We always compare ourselves to one another. But the Bible calls us to do the opposite.
How does God define winning or success in our race for him? It’s not about being better or holier than someone else. Every Christian must obey the Holy Spirit when he speaks and addresses every character flaw and behavior that does not please Christ.
Success is obedience, not being better than someone else. Looking good in front of others doesn’t do us a bit of good before God. A person can hide their inner thoughts and intentions from other people that no one can hide them before God. A person can
We as Christians have a race to run for Christ. The race for holiness is not run or one in front of everybody else. We win the race in the silent times. We are victorious when no one else is looking but the Father. What others see stays on the surface. But the inner character building and preparation wins the race.
So how do we run our own race with excellence?
We don’t win the race on our own strength. Humility must mark victorious runners (Philippians 3:7-11). Paul left everything he thought was gain behind. Nothing else was worth pursuing Christ and finding him. His own righteousness that he built up was worth nothing. Isaiah confirms that our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
If any of us wants to boast, we must only boast in Christ and his work on our behalf (Galatians 6:14). We must not let pride and arrogance distract us from the goal of winning the race. We can disqualify ourselves from our destination.
- Self Evaluation
Each one of us is on a different leg of the race. We all mature at different speeds. Everyone started their journey with Christ at a different age and maturity. No one can expect a new Christian to be in the same place as a Christian who has known Christ for 20 years.
We must evaluate ourselves so we do not fall short in our own race (Galatians 6:4). You cannot help other Christians if you are stumbling yourself. We can only give people what we have. Be careful to run your own race and help when you can.
God calls us to place ourselves before him as we run this race for him. We examine ourselves before the Lord to partake of his blood and body in communion (1 Corinthians 11:28). Paul calls us to examine ourselves to make sure we remain in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Let us all make sure we remain on Christ’s path.
Paul likes to use running as a metaphor. He talks about many runners running the race but only one winning the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). That runner who wins the prize spends an inordinate amount of time training and disciplining himself.
Self-discipline doesn’t concern itself with any of the other runners. These champions of the race course spend countless hours perfecting their own time. Their only competition is their bodies. Paul tells us his goal is to win his own race after preaching to others.
The imagery for Paul’s example comes from the Olympic Games. Athletes impress us with their abilities to do incredible and impossible feats. We only see the athlete’s results on the day of the race. We don’t see his toil, sweat, blood, and preparation.
Endurance is the patience to bear up under the pressure of life. When we run with endurance, we don’t allow trials to get to us. Runners in the Olympic games would train with weights on their feet to weigh them down and strengthen the muscles. But they would be a hindrance to the runners during the race that counted for the prize. We must cast off everything that hinders us from running the race with excellence for Jesus.
We do not run the race alone. There is a cloud of witnesses we can rely on (Hebrews 12:1-2). The writer of Hebrews encourages us to lay aside everything that weighs us down and run the race with endurance. God marks out every Christian’s race. It’s not another person’s race. And then he encourages us to not grow weary.
If you don’t set your pace and keep with it, you’ll run out of energy before the race is over. The other runners can be a big distraction. And it can cost you your race. By the time I was in high school I learned that my race was the only one that mattered.
Just because we’re running our race doesn’t mean we ignore our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul gives us instruction on how to take care of one another as we run together in Christ (Galatians 6:1-5). If another Christian falls along the path, we must have the spiritual maturity to help him or her back up.
These five characteristics enable us to run the race for success. God doesn’t base success on our progress compared to others. He bases it on whether we please him or not. Our race for holiness is personal.
We can’t win the race on our own. We need the help of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 3, Paul talks about beginning and continuing with the Holy Spirit. Anyone who runs the race for holiness on their own will find themselves short of the finish line. The Holy Spirit began Jesus’ work in us and he must complete it (Galatians 3:1-6).
The Galatians were running a good race until false teachers tripped them up (Galatians 5:7-12). This is why it is so dangerous to compare ourselves with one another. Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in your race. Don’t let anyone else cut in on you as you run your race for him.
We’re not in the race for holiness to compare ourselves to others. This race is about pleasing one person. It’s not even about the satisfaction we have for ourselves. I am only satisfied if my performance pleases the Lord.
Running the Christian race isn’t about watching others. There’s only one person we need to impress. Comparing ourselves to others presents the biggest distraction and may cost us our race for holiness. God doesn’t compare one of his children to another.
How do you maintain your Christian walk? Do you compare yourself to other Christians? Leave a comment and share what you’ve learned in your race.