I come from a state, Kentucky, which knows something about thoroughbred horse racing. Not every horse is invited to run for the roses. Only the best are chosen to run. No horse, no matter how fast it may be can win the prize until it first is entered into the race. No horse can be crowned the winner unless it follows the rules explicitly. It doesn’t matter how good a start a horse may get that makes a horse a winner, but rather where it finishes. In the end of all things, it doesn’t matter how talented a horse may be, but rather how much a heart it possess to win.
The Hebrews writer compared life to running a race. “Wherefore we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which cloth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb.12:1-2).
Invitation to Run
Many are called to run, but few are chosen (Mt 22:14). Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto my soul. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The Spirit and the bride invite. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
One Must Enter the Race
It is not enough to hear about the race and to know that it is going on, but the race must be entered. One has to meet the requirements set up in order to enter this spiritual race. The qualifications are: faith in Christ (John. 8:24), a confession of one’s faith (Matt. 10: 32), repentance (Acts 17: 30), and baptism (Rom 6:3,4). If a man buys a racetrack, he expects those who enter the race to run on the inside of the enclosure to be qualified for the prize. A horse might outrun every other horse on the outside of the track, but would he be eligible for the prize? Do you think Christ would purchase the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28), and let folks run on the outside and then give them a prize at the end of the race?
Must Run Until the Race Is Over
If you drop out of life’s race you are disqualified unless you are reinstated. Many enter the race but are hindered and drop out. Paul said to the Galatians: “You did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Gal. 5:7). We must, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto you are also called, and has professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Tim. 6:12). If we expect to receive the prize we must, “Be faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10).
Must Abide by the Rules
Every horse entered into a race must abide by the rules if it is expected to win. Even so, we who run in life’s race must do likewise. There are too many today in the church who believe that it is not necessary to follow the rules. Paul told Timothy: “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Tim. 2:5). We will not receive God’s prize unless we follow the rules He has laid down in His word.
Run With Patience
A horse and his rider must be patient to know when to make it’s move unless he is overtaken in the end. The Hebrew writer said, “… let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1) One reason that many who enter life’s race will not receive the prize is because they did not learn to be patient. “That you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). James said, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain” (Jas. 5:7). Paul admonished the Galatians: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
Run With Our Eyes on the Lord
The apostle, to the Hebrews tells us to run, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:2). Perhaps one reason so many drop out of life’s race is that they do not keep their eyes on the Lord. One reason we should keep our eyes on the Lord is to see the example he set. Peter said, “For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
Christ to Judge the Race
When we think about a race we think about a judge. “For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgement unto the Son” (Jn. 5:22). Jesus Christ will be the judge of this race (Rom 2:16). “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). We will be judged by how we run in life’s race. “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Cor.5:10).
A Prize for Those who Endure
“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air” (1 Cor. 9:26) Life’s race, as the Lord directs, is an incorruptible crown. Peter said it is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, received in heaven for you” (I Pet. 1:4). Those who run in life’s race faithfully will not have run in vain. “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain” (Phil.2:16). So let us, “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
May you enter life’s race and then run that it might be said of you when you come to the end of the way, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE CROWN OF LIFE (Rev 2:10)!