Summary: This is Part 6 of my series titled "Choices" and is titled "Finish Your Race." The message focuses on the motivation behind what we do for Christ and how we live out our Christianity.
Choices Part 6
Finish Your Race
This message is part six and the conclusion of my series “Choices.” In my message on last Sunday I asked you to choose love. The reason that I asked you to choose love is because who we are as Christians has love as the foundation. Everything we do as Christians should be based on our love for our fellowman. If we do not have love as our foundation, nothing else matters. As I shared with you on last Sunday, Jesus said that if we are His disciples, we would be known by the love we have for one another. He also said that if we loved Him, we would keep His commandments. Our love for Him is demonstrated through our actions. This morning I am closing this series with a simple request – finish your race! This is the first day of the rest of your race – finish it! Our foundational Scripture, which you should know by now, comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Let’s read it one last time. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus; not with uncertainty. Thus I fight; not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) This morning I want to focus our attention back on verse twenty-four, specifically where Paul says, “Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” He was talking about winning the prize based on how we run the race. As a backdrop for this message I want to use the story of Kayla Montgomery.
I. But Lord Jesus, I Knew You!
On the first of February, my daughter Clarissa sent me a video of Kayla Montgomery. Kayla Montgomery, for those of you unfamiliar with her, is a college student at Nashville’s Lipscomb University studying molecular biology. At the age of fourteen she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease of the brain and spinal cord where the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. The symptoms and severity of the disease is different in each individual. After Kayla was diagnosed she decided and devoted herself to running, competing and setting new records – something unheard of for someone with MS. To accomplish her goal, as Paul said “Run in such a way that you may obtain it,” she began to train six days a week and run distances of 40 miles each week. When she began competing in races, she realized that about one mile into the race her legs began to go numb. Kayla’s MS affects the areas that are in control of how she feels her legs so when her body temperature rises (as she runs) the symptoms of her MS reappear. Think about it, the more and harder she runs, the more her symptoms worsen. Can you see this in your mind? As you visualize this, turn with me to Matthew chapter seven and I will come back to Kayla shortly.
In Matthew I want to use two teachings of Jesus to describe our individual races. One of the teachings focuses on false Church leaders while the second one focuses on every person who considers themselves a Christian. I shared with you on last Sunday that the “qualification” for our race, and there was only one, is love. When we accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we were filled with His love. That love was not to be contained within us, but shared with others so that they too could have this relationship with our risen Savior. I have talked about the primary goal of our race is to win souls for Christ and this is done, not necessarily by the preaching from the pulpit, but more often from our individual interactions with others. What I want us to see this morning is that it’s not just the action, it the motivation behind the action as I shared last week. Let’s begin reading at verse thirteen of Matthew chapter seven.
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:13-23)