Friday, December 29, 2023

Don’t Slow Down

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 NLT)

It isn’t enough to start well in the race of life; we need to finish well. It isn’t enough to run fast; we need to run fast and long. This is a long-distance run, and the goal is to make it across the finish line.

As the apostle Paul neared the end of his race, he wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:7 NLT).

The Bible is filled with the stories of so many who had tremendous potential but crashed and burned in the spiritual race.

There was King Saul, who had incredible potential, yet he disobeyed God repeatedly. He allowed pride into his life, which gave way to the paranoia and jealousy that ultimately consumed him. He essentially wrote his own epitaph when he said, “I have been a fool and very, very wrong” (1 Samuel 26:21 NLT).

Then there was Samson, with his incredible ability to vanquish his enemies. On one occasion, he killed a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. Yet he went down in flames. Because he played around with sin, sin ultimately played around with him, culminating in his own death.

Gideon had such humble beginnings, yet God mightily used him to conquer his enemies. But as his life came to an end, he lowered his standards and fell into immorality and pride.

These people started well, but they didn’t finish well. They ran fast in the beginning, but they didn’t get across the finish line as they should have.

Paul wanted to be in the company of those who finished the race, men like Caleb and Joshua in the Old Testament who finished well.

Hebrews 12 tells us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (verses 1–2 NLT).

We’re running this race not for applause, not for notoriety, but for the Lord. We run this race so that we can hear Jesus say to us on that final day, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Looking to Jesus keeps us going, because we can get discouraged. People can let us down. They can disappoint us. That’s why we must keep our eyes on Jesus Christ.

In the ancient Greek games, a judge would stand at the finish line holding laurel leaves, the reward given to the victor in plain sight. As runners came around the last stretch, tired and exhausted, they could see the prize awaiting the winner. And no doubt a new burst of energy kicked in.

This is a long-distance run. So keep running. If you’ve been slowing down, it’s time to speed up. It’s time to move forward, because you are leaving a legacy.

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