When Paul penned his second letter to Timothy, he knew that the end was near. He told the younger preacher, “The time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tim. 4:6). The final words of the great apostle teach us so much about living and dying. The time of his departure was at hand. He viewed his life as a battle to be fought and a race to be run.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Taking time to view our own lives as a race to be run provides eternal motivation for righteous living.
The Christian’s race must be run lawfully. Paul had already told Timothy, “If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5). To have the crown, we must enter the race (become Christians) and abide by His laws of holiness.
The Christian’s race demands great sacrifice and training. We cannot run the race effectively unless we heed these words. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). It takes time and dedication to run and finish our race.
The Christian’s race demands we look forward, not backward. Far too many Christians think about past accomplishments rather than present opportunities. God is not nearly as concerned about what you used to be and how you used to serve Him as He is concerned about where you are today. Paul said it best, “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).
The Christian’s race demands we keep focused. The passage cited earlier from Hebrews also says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” There is the finish line and Jesus stands awaiting our arrival.
How are you running the race? If you died today, could you honestly say the following: “I have run lawfully. I have laid aside every weight. I have sacrificed and trained for this race. I am running in the present and not trusting in past days of righteous living. I have kept my eyes on the finishing line. I have not given up”?
The race is not over yet. Are there changes you should make in the race you run as a Christian?