2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Paul was writing to Timothy with the Greek Games in mind. Some in those games entered the contest of running. They were required to run long distances with the hope of winning. Paul tells us that just as he had a course to run with the Lord, you and I do too.
The problem with running a race is that it can be very long and difficult. If we're honest, it’s hard not to focus on the journey. Oh, sure, it's easy to talk about the race AFTER we've run, but during the race, it's all we can do to keep breathing!
Another issue in running our race for the Lord is that we think others have it easier! Sometimes we look at others' paths and wish ours was more like theirs. Here’s the truth: our run in life is individual.
We aren’t in a competition.
God wants each and every person to focus on His plan for their lives. Simply put, we need to stop being jealous. Jealousy has no place in our race.
The truth is that we can’t run in another's shoes, and they can’t run in ours. Our lives have been planned by the Lord for reasons we might not understand until the day enter heaven.
We must remember that our focus needs to be on Christ. It’s so easy to look to the right or the left, but we must look up to the one who matters.
Our hope is that one day this run we are on will end at the feet of Jesus. While we are running, we need to remember that there are things that are trying to hold us back from finishing strong.
Hebrews 12:1–2 (CEV)
1 Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.
2 We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne!
We must focus on what matters most.
Now, Paul mentions that there is a reward for running well.
2 Timothy 4:8 (CEV)
So a crown will be given to me for pleasing the Lord.
In Greece, they would compete for these little crowns made of either oak leaves or laurel leaves. Those little crowns didn’t last long because they were made from plants. The reward was temporary and short-lived.
Paul is looking past such earthly treasures, and he can see a time when he is standing with the Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus will give him a crown that will never fade away!
We must keep running our race because we have hope waiting for us in Heaven! We can’t wait for people to reward us, cheer us on, or praise our efforts. No way! The Lord himself is watching our lives. He sees all that we say, do, and think. Paul calls Him the “righteous judge.”
Jesus is our hope. He will reward those who walk with Him. This is what keeps us running for Him. He is our hope and salvation. Let's continue to press on, knowing that the Lord will give us strength in this life and a reward in the life to come.