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RUNNING WELL

The christian life is likened to a race or a marathon that begins on earth and ends in heaven, and which requires commitment and dedication to God. Sadly, there are christians who, for one reason or another, have not really “ran well.” Perhaps lukewarmness, indifference, or complacency, may have crept into their lives. Let us be mindful that we are living in the “last days” where love and obedience to God have waned considerably, and become practically non-existent for some.

Obviously, the Galatians started off well in their endeavors and enthusiasm about the christian life but, alas, something happened. In his letter to them, the apostle Paul pointed out, “You were running well, who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from Him who calls you” (Galatians 5:7-8). From “Him” who calls you refers to God.

In his commentary on Hebrews 12:1, William MacDonald aptly wrote the following, “The Christian life is a race that requires discipline and endurance. We must strip ourselves of everything that would impede us. Weights are things that may be harmless in themselves and yet hinder progress; they could include material possessions, family ties, the love of comfort, lack of mobility, etc…. We must guard against the notion that the race is an easy sprint, that everything in the Christian life is rosy. We must be prepared to press on with perseverance through trials and temptation” (Believer’s Bible Commentary p. 2202).

The christian race requires dedication in worship, service, and obedience to God and must be run with hope, faith and patience, otherwise we will never get to the finish line. As Paul was nearing the end of his life, he wrote this to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Paul had many challenges in his life. He was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked and stoned. Yet, he never gave in nor gave up. Paul also had in mind, as he wrote, “the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that day, and not to me only but to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7,8).

Endurance is one of the key principles of the christian race. Endurance means the ability to withstand adversity, difficulty, and challenges. Also, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” is absolutely essential. Jesus is our perfect example for the race, because He "for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1,2). Note, the 'cross' speaks of death, shame, suffering, sorrow, betrayal, and rejection. And yet, Jesus willingly looked beyond all these, "For the joy that was set before Him.” What was that joy? Undoubtedly, that joy was accomplishing His Father's will to provide a full and free salvation for "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

Paul also wrote to Timothy: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). This statement is amazingly true, as if it is being written in our time. There is so much deceptive and ungodly teachings in an attempt to justify heresy, apostasy, and the occult. The epistle of Jude exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith" which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 3,4). 'Certain men have crept in' are "grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage" (Jude 16). Let us be fully alert to these things.

Sir Winston Churchill, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, speaking at his alma mater, told the students, “Young men, never give up! never, never, never, never, never, never.” This is exactly what christians should do, especially since we are not in this world forever. God will never ever disappoint. Let us keep on keeping on, by encouraging ourselves in the Lord, "for in due season we will reap if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9).

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