The book of Proverbs gives us some of the best counsel when it comes to daily Christianity. Solomon said,
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The Godly life is truly the happiest and best way of life. God’s Word has been handed down to us to instruct us in this noble pursuit (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
To help us better understand the nature of the Christian life, the Scriptures describe it as a race in which we are competitors (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). In keeping with the athletic theme, the writer of Hebrews encourages each Christian to set aside “every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). As Christians, our goal in life must be to finish this all-important race. I’d like to share three things that you may find helpful.
First of all, we need to Improve Our Concept of God. Having the proper concept of God carries us through this race. The last thing we need to have in our minds is that God hates us, or that He wants us to fail so He can condemn us to be eternally lost. A false concept of God kept a whole generation of Israelites from entering the Promised Land. The idea that God was against them sealed their fate and can also withhold God’s great blessings from us (Hebrews 3:17-19).
God loves us and wants us to be saved (1 Thessalonians 5:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9). He isn’t looking for ways to trip us up, nor is He trying to entice us to sin so that He can punish us (James 1:12). It is not God’s desire to see His children do a face plant on the race track of life. The Scriptures declare boldly that God is for us (Romans 8:31).
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand (Psalms 37:23-24).
Not only is He our help and guide as we face the challenges of life, He is the One who lifts us up in our inevitable moments of failure.
A second thing that helps us to finish the Christian race is to Renew Our Confidence. It takes confidence to live as a Christian. Satan has a dual purpose in mind here. First, he wants to convince us that we don’t have what it takes to be faithful. If that doesn’t work, plan B is to get us to put our confidence in ourselves. This is what many of the Christians at Laodicea did. They said, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Being overconfident in ourselves leads to a state of independence from God. We could call this self-dependence. This reliance on our own righteousness leads to spiritual failure. Being overconfident in self is actually a misplaced faith which causes unfaithfulness toward God. The source of spiritual failure for many is simply an overconfidence in self and a lack of confidence in God!
Renewing confidence is trusting that “the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken” (Proverbs 3:26). When our confidence is in the Lord we understand that He will help us overcome anything that gets in our way as we run the Christian race. He is the one who keeps us from falling and presents us “faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Renewal happens day by day as we grow in the knowledge of God’s Word (2 Corinthians 4:16; Colossians 3:10). Renewing our confidence allows us to approach life with boldness and do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
Finally, we can finish the Christian race by Improving Our Commitment. No matter how committed we are there’s always room for improvement. We are supposed to be “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). If we are NOT totally committed to serving the Lord, we will find it hard, perhaps impossible, to be faithful to Him. Who then is a faithful and wise servant? The one whom the Lord finds doing when He comes (Matthew 24:45). A Christian who is totally committed is not going to give in to discouragement and distraction. He’s going to finish his race like the Apostle Paul, whose commitment to live for Christ every day enabled him to finish his course (Philippians 1:21; 2 Timothy 4:7). If you want to finish your race, commit to grow in your knowledge of God’s word (2 Peter 3:18).
As you improve your concept of God, you will find that you desire to know more about Him. As you learn who God truly is, your confidence as you run the Christian race will be renewed. As you run hard toward the finish line, you will find yourself becoming more and more committed to serving Christ (Philippians 3:13-14).
This marathon is not easy, nor is it free of challenges and hurdles. There is much for us to overcome. At times we will get tripped up. We may even fall, but we have to get back on our feet and keep pressing toward that finish line (Philippians 3:14). The wise man said, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (Proverbs 24:16). No matter what challenges we face, the determination that we can do this in Christ is what keeps us faithful until the end (Revelation 2:10). We have to be resolute that when we fall we are going to get back up and finish what we started. He has what it takes to carry you through the race. Do you have what it takes?