“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” – Hebrews 12:3
Redmond was a record-holding sprinter from
But what happened next is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. Derek only stayed down for a few seconds. Then he stood back up and began limping, as fast as he could, toward the finish line. If you watch the clip, you can see his face, and it’s obvious that the pain was indescribable. But he kept pressing forward. And then, out of nowhere, some old guy ran out onto the track to help Derek run. It was Derek’s dad. And despite the embarrassment, the disappointment and the pain, Derek Redmond kept the faith—and finished the race.
Now, if Derek Redmond can finish his race for his country, how much more should you and I finish our race for Jesus Christ! We’ve got to run this race with some heart. We’ve got to run this race with some gusto. We’ve got to run this race like lives depend on it … because they do.
But how do we run this Jesus race day after day without tiring out, without getting discouraged, and without losing hope? In the New Testament, God reveals several keys to running a gold-medal race for Jesus.
Key #1: Draw inspiration from others. The ESV version of Hebrews 12:1 says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means.” When you read about the way the heroes of the Bible trusted and obeyed God even when it didn’t seem to make sense, that should inspire YOU to trust God, too. Warren Wiersbe says it really well: “If you are having problems with your family, read about Joseph. If you think your job is too big for you, study the life of Moses. If you are tempted to retaliate, see how David handled this problem.” In Hebrews 11, there are about 20 heroes of the faith mentioned by name. Flip back to the Old Testament and read some of their stories. I’ll bet it will inspire you to trust God a little deeper and run your Jesus race a little harder.
Key #2: Play by the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5 tells us, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” What happens if an Olympic wrestler tests positive for steroids? He’s disqualified. What happens if an Olympic gymnast bribes the judges? She’s disqualified. Bottom line: If you break the rules, you don’t get the gold medal. The same is true as we run this Jesus race. We have to follow the rules. And there are just three basic rules: Trust God. Love God. And obey God’s commands. Do these three things every day, and you you’ll be well on your way to running a great race.
Key #3: Exercise. It’s good for you. 1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” There is value in physical training to accomplish physical goals—especially when it leads to spiritual training to accomplish more important spiritual goals. There are all sorts of reasons why you and I should exercise regularly. It keeps our bodies healthier. It boosts our mood. It helps us keep up with our kids and grandkids. But one of the greatest benefits of exercising regularly is that it teaches us self-discipline, without which you and I will poop out long before this race is over. The self-control that you learn in pursuit of a PHYSICAL goal will be used by God to teach you self-control in pursuit of His SPIRITUAL goals for you.
Key #4: Don’t sin. Sin slows you down. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore … 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.” Sin makes you weak. Many Christians have bought into the lie that as long as we don’t do drugs, drink too much, overeat or have unprotected sex, our sin won’t make us sick. But that’s not true. Your body and your spirit are interconnected. ALL sin makes you weak and sick.
Key #5: Finish strong. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 reads, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also for all who have longed for His appearing.”
Some of us didn’t get off to a good start with our Christian race. Others of us came out of the starting blocks pretty well, but we’ve gotten a bit lazy since then. But regardless of how your Jesus race started, and regardless of how it’s been going recently, it’s not too late to start running and finish strong. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. And keep the faith.
Dane Davis is the Pastor
of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service Sundays at 9 a.m. at