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Running the Race to Finish

From a Biblical Christian Worldview perspective.

Running the Race

Americans are programmed to compete and to win. When there is a sports event, the question is always about who or what team will win, meaning there must also be a losing entity, as well. Our culture is based on competition to see who can and will be the best. Coming in first is not a bad thing, but in some cases, neither is coming in last.

When running a marathon, there will always be someone who “wins” with the best time. That simply means the person got to the end of the race before everyone else. If you have ever observed these races, however, for many it is not who wins or comes in first, but rather who finishes the race. When interviewing runners, repeatedly they say their goal is to accomplish the feat — not to be first — but to complete the race. Finishing the race is a mark of success whether coming in first place or last place. Perseverance to the end is what matters.

What Does the Bible Say?

The Bible instructs believers to run the race of the Christian life. It does not promote “winning” the race in front of everyone else; it promotes endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness in finishing the race. At times, this may be a concept that is difficult for American Christians to understand, because winning is so inbred with competition. It sets up believers to compare themselves with others who are also in the race, rather than keeping the focus on finishing as God intended for us to live (Hebrews 12:2).

Hebrews 12:1 states that believers are to run with endurance (perseverance) the race that is marked out for them. This means, 1) we are to remain faithful and finish the course given to us, and 2) each of us has our own race to run. God has called each of us to be unique and to serve and fulfill the purpose He has given us individually. We do not all have the same calling or assignment, but we are all to complete our given course.

In some translations, the same verse tells us to run with patience. In long-distance running, a runner cannot sprint the entire length of the race or he will burn out way before reaching the finish line. To run with patience means we must pace ourselves for the distance so that when we near the end of our race, we can finish strong.

This does not suggest that the only goal is to finish the race with no prize or reward. There is more to the race than simply crossing the finish line. The Apostle Paul states, in Philippians 3:14, that he continues to press on toward the mark to obtain the prize! Again, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul instructs us to run so that we may also obtain the prize. This is not about winning first place or third place.

In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, God repeatedly exhorts believers to overcome, to be faithful, and to endure to the end. For what purpose? To obtain God’s blessings and best throughout eternity. All believers are instructed to run (not observe on the sidelines) and to patiently endure to the end. In doing so, God promises rewards, or prizes, for each believer who completes his/her course.

Revelation 2:7 states that those who overcome and maintain their faith, will eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the city of God. Revelation 2:11 states that those who overcome to the end will not be hurt by the “second death.” This means the believer will escape eternal judgment as God now sees that believer through Jesus’ righteousness and not man’s righteousness. As God judges man’s righteousness to be no better than filthy rags, He sees Jesus’ pure righteousness imputed or given to those who have trusted Him and endured to the end. This means believers gain eternal life with Jesus, not judgment and damnation separated from God for eternity.

Revelation 2:17 instructs that he who overcomes will be given some of the hidden manna to eat (the Bread of Life), a white stone symbolizing purity and innocence — not guilt and judgment — and a new name that will be found in God’s Book of Life. When a believer is born again and becomes a child of God, God gives him a new name and writes it in the Book of Life to identify the believer as His.

Revelation 3:5 tells us that he who overcomes will be clothed in white garments, holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27) and his name (the new name known by God Himself) will not be blotted out of the Book of Life. It continues to say that Jesus Himself will confess the believers’ names before God the Father and the angels. This means He will not be ashamed of us before His Father and pronounce us as His Bride, perfect in His righteousness and presented to God (see Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8).

Revelation 3:12 states that he who overcomes will be made a pillar in the Temple of God — permanent, bearing up under trials or loads, immovable (faithful to the end) in the faith. Note that this is not a result of “winning” a race, but enduring patiently and faithfully to the end. As we endure trials and tribulations, exercising our faith in God, we become tempered, strong, and able to withstand all of the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). Again, Jesus states that He will write on us our new name that is known by Him, declaring we are His for eternity and will remain with Him throughout eternity. Those who endure to the end will belong to Jesus forever and can never be removed or replaced from their eternal home with Him.

Revelation 3:21 provides the seventh reward or benefit of faithfully enduring to the end: to be granted the authority to sit with Jesus on His eternal throne. Believers are joint heirs, co-equal heirs with Jesus as children of God (Romans 8:17), and, through eternity, presented by Jesus to God the Father as the Bride of Christ. Those who endure will reign forever with Jesus from His throne!

Biblical Christians and the Race

There is more to the Christian race than winning or coming in first place. It is a race of patience and endurance. The goal is to finish, to cross the line within the course that God has laid for each believer. Believers are not competing with each other; believers are not comparing themselves to each other. Believers are asked to run their own unique race as laid out by God and to endure the trials and tribulations set before them so that, as they finish, they receive the prize of the high calling that God has placed on them and freely gives them.

Run the race with endurance. Finish strong!

Salvation – Eternal Life in Less Than 150 Words

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AuthorRandy DeVaul | BCWorldview.org 


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