Summary: Dedication to Christ requires that we run the race of faith without the hinderances of sin and flesh.
The Bible sometimes describes the Christian life as a race. In those days the Olympic games of Greece and the Isthmian games of Corinth were all the rage. They were the sporting events of the day. Athletic races were well known as feats of endurance, speed and agility. Everyone knew the races such as the decathlon and the marathon were only won by the most determined and the most disciplined athletes.
They were not races entered into in the spirit of children in a foot race without any genuine concern for the outcome. Athletes trained hard. They lived and breathed for the prize to be won by the first contestant to cross the finish line. They shunned anything that might lessen their chances of winning.
All these elements, discipline, training, speed, agility, desire, and endurance make the race such an appropriate analogy for the life of the believer who is to be a chaser after God (a God-chaser).
Have Josh and Karen race to the rear of the sanctuary - with me riding piggy-back on Josh! (Have him really try to win.)
He could probably win pretty easily without my weight and cumbersomeness...
"Excess baggage fills this plane, much more than we should ever allow...’cause there are engines stallin’ and good men fallin’ and I’m not crawlin’ away-
I just want to know am I pullin’ people closer? I just want to know am I drawin’ them to Him?" -Steve Taylor
The Bible says throw off everything that hinders you in the race. Get rid of the sin that entangles you as you try to run. Yet too many times we are willing to be saddled with the weight of the world and shackled by everything Slewfoot throws at us.
Things we know will only hinder our progress and impede our pace. We have people who play with sin like a pet rattlesnake. Not out of ignorance. They know better. But they think it’ll be different for them. They’ll be the exception. It won’t bite them. They become statistics.
It’s like the man who asked me if I knew what his dad called couples who used the rhythm method for birth control. I thought he was going to be crude and say something like "stupid" but all he called them was "parents."
Don’t take chances. Don’t run the risks. Don’t mess with things that could cost more than you want to pay.
If you’re involved with things that hinder your spiritual progress and growth, STOP! Knock it off.
At General Council one of the missionaries in the exhibit hall gave me a sticker for the front of my computer monitor to remind me to use my computer for the glory of God and not to view pornography on the internet. I don’t plan to use it. I figure I should have that one committed to memory by now.
But I am amazed at the number of people - Christians!- that allow themselves to get snared by that stuff. Ever so often I hear of a pastor who falls prey to filth. He loses his ministry, his reputation, the confidence of his family and he has to hang his head the rest of his days. All because he wasn’t willing to cast off the restraints of sin.
It’s not always something as damnable and damaging as smut that hinders the Christian race. It can be an otherwise harmless thing if it were not for the huge amounts of time and money invested in it - "toys" or entertainment for example. In themselves they are not bad for you, but if they represent large quantities of time they might be robbing you of time spent with Christ. Last Sunday I counseled a young man to drop off time spent with friends. They were pulling him down, weakening his walk with God. There is too much at stake to run the risks. He’s better off without a friend in the world except Jesus than with all the friends in the world but Jesus.
Don’t let the Devil bog you down with anything that would distract you from giving 100% to the race for God.
The Good Book says God has a course laid out for us. He has already gone ahead and marked off the boundaries of the race. It also says we are to run this race with patience. The idea is with patient endurance or with perseverance. In plain English, we are to train hard for this thing called the Christian life. We are to realize the enormity of the task before us. We are to train for it and build our stamina for the long haul.
Don’t give up if you encounter a few setbacks. They are to be expected. We have opponents in this race. There are those who do not want us to win. We have been warned that someone would come along to sabotage the route.