Spring is well underway, baseball is in full swing, track and field events are going on all around us, and the 2008 Olympic Games are not far ahead of us. And as we think about competing in sports, it can help us understand life as a follower of Jesus Christ. In Hebrews chapter 12, the writer explains that the Christian life is like running in a race. And He tells us if we don’t run it correctly, it can wear us out! So, what do we need to know about this race of life?

First of all, we are running to win ˆ to finish well! Verse 1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, and especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress (NLT)!” If we’re going to run well as a Christian, we must lay aside anything that weighs us down. I can’t imagine someone trying to run a race with a heavy weight strapped to his back. But that is exactly what we do when, as believers, we try to run with the heavy baggage of sin pulling us down and tripping us up! Sin saps the spiritual strength and power we need to finish the race well. So, what’s weighing you down?

Paul continues, “Let us run with endurance the race set before us.” The Christian life is not a 50 yard dash ˆ it’s a marathon! And we must run this marathon with endurance and patience. We must prepare ourselves for a strong finish, or we’ll be likely to run out of strength early and drop out of the race. We all know people who have started the race well, but for some reason they stumbled on the track and fell down; or they got tired and gave up before they got to the finish line!

Maybe you are someone who feels you have been disqualified from the race because you’ve dropped out early. If so, you need to know that once you’ve entered God’s race, you can never be disqualified! You can always get up and start the race again and finish well! You see, it doesn’t matter so much where we enter the race, but how we finish it that counts! God has called us to run the race of faithfulness. Just as in track, there are many events to be run; but God only requires us to be faithful to run in OUR event, not someone else’s! We must run the race God has set before US!

We also need to understand that if we’re going to win the race, we must keep our eyes focused on the goal ˆ the finish line! We are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and FINISHER of our faith (vs 2)!” What’s the goal? Heaven, of course. But also to hear our heavenly Father say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” And to be able to say with confidence at the end of the race of life, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!”

Have you entered the race toward heaven? Or are you running away from God? How you finish your life is determined by the goal you are running toward! Let’s run the race faithfully and remember that Jesus has already run the race ahead of us, and is running our race with us! Jesus would say to each of us, “Keep your eyes focused on ME, and YOU CAN’T LOSE!”

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