Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may attain it. Every athlete exercises self control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself may be disqualified. (II Corinthians 9:24-27)
Paul is using the example of an athlete in this passage, in particular, a runner to teach truths about our walk (or run at times) of faith. He says that every one who is living a life of faith is running for victory — the prize. What is this prize, other than the ultimate goal to be rewarded by Jesus? We all desire to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.” (Matthew 25:21) The Christian life has a goal: to enjoy the Sabbath rest we have been promised through the grace of God. So, we are to “run to obtain it.” We do this by fixing our eyes of Jesus.
…Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the same, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1b-2)
Paul says, “So run that you may obtain it.” The writer to the Hebrews says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The race is run in order to obtain the prize. In other words, there is a finish line and the prize awaits us there. We are to run with endurance. We cannot give up! Run it for the long haul. Don’t start and not finish. The goal is Jesus who is the founder and the perfecter of our faith. Look at what He endured — the cross. He paid the ultimate price in order that we may obtain the prize that He won for us. Running the race is not teaching that we have to earn the prize — our salvation. Rather the prize has already been won by the Lord Jesus Christ. In other words, we are not talking about self-righteousness here. We are speaking of our responsibility empowered by faith, which itself is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8).
Remember we are in a race — our lives on this earth. The prize has already been won for us. As long as we live, we are to run in order to receive our prize, that is, we are to keep the faith. This is only possible when we keep our eyes on Jesus.
In the next post we will look at what is necessary for us to complete the race.
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