Summary: Are you running or stumbling? What can throw you off course or cause you to stumble? I believe there are at least three areas that will hinder, check, or retard your ability to run the race and finish well: Lack of Compulsion, Lack of Concentration, and L
RUNNING OR STUMBLING: HOW WILL YOU FINISH?
INTRODUCTION: In his writings, Paul often uses analogies from the Olympic Games to teach spiritual truths. He makes reference to Christians being like athletes in training, to shadow boxing, wrestling, and racers. The swift runner was the most highly esteemed out of all the athletes. For the races the athletes prepared themselves by a long course of discipline and exercise; and nothing was left undone that might contribute to secure their finishing well and obtaining the prize which would be conferred upon the successful runner. Whatever prize was conferred on the successful champions on the last day of the games, it was presented with great solemnity, pomp, congratulation, and rejoicing. It is said that "Everyone thronged to see and congratulate them; their relations, friends, and countrymen, shedding tears of tenderness and joy, lifted them on their shoulders to show them to the crowd, and held them up to the applauses of the whole assembly, who strewed handfuls of flowers over them." (Anachar iii, 448) Paul represents the Christian life as a race with each runner having an eye on finishing well and winning the prize of an incorruptible crown. Paul tells the Galatians that they started running the race well but they allowed someone or something to interfere with their running, deflecting them and causing them to stumble. In verse 7 we read, "You were running well. Who hindered you that you do not obey the truth?" The term used in this verse for hinder is “an Olympic expression, and signifies "coming across the course” while a person is running in it, in such a manner as to jostle, and throw him out of the way." As believers we are to run the race without allowing ourselves to be hindered by any obstructions and without giving out or fainting along the way. Realize that as Ron Owen states, "Though our personal acceptance by God is based on what Christ has done for us not our performance, He does evaluate and judge our offerings, either accepting or rejecting them." (Blackaby and Owens, Worship: Believers Experiencing God p 69) How we run does matter. Paul says in Acts 20 (quickview)  and 1 Corinthians 9 (quickview)  that he runs in such a manner so as not to stumble and to finish well. Are you running or stumbling? What can throw you off course or cause you to stumble? I believe there are at least three things that will hinder, check, or retard your ability to run the race and finish well: Lack of Compulsion, Lack of Concentration, and Lack of Consecration.
I. The Lack of Compulsion – running half heartedly with a divided allegiance.
A. The person who lacks compulsion or total commitment is the person who is not sold out and is therefore indecisive in their Christian life.
C. The candidate for the Olympic races was required to be ten months in training, and to practice in the gymnasium immediately before the games. They had to make a commitment that nothing was more important than running the race. They whole life was to be committed to making sure that they would run to the best of the ability. Today, the average Olympian trains at least four hours a day, 310 days a year for six years before succeeding.