Since the pandemic began over a year ago, it seems that more people have invested time in personal fitness and exercise. Being stuck at home decreased our activity and people became creative with simple ways to maintain their health within the confines of their own neighborhoods. Running seemed to be one of the top three activities that people became active in over the past year or so.
I personally know quite a few people who run…we have a couple of avid runners at the Pursuit Christian Fellowship. I used to run but was never a fan of it; I ran while in the military because it was mandatory, but never adopted it as a hobby. I was fairly good at it though; my fastest 2-mile run was 10:27…something that I’d probably never do again in my life!
But I did adopt a different type of ‘race’…it’s the journey that I have with God. Our walk with God is often described as a race. The apostle Paul tells us in First Corinthians chapter 9 that we should ‘run in such a way as to get the prize.’ In other words, we should run our best spiritual race with the intention of finishing winning.
In Paul’s message to the Hebrews (chapter 12), he encourages Christians to not only run, but also how to run. In just the first couple of verses Paul gives us some great insight and things to remember concerning our life-long spiritual race for God.
First, we must recognize that this race (our Christian life) is not an easy race to run. So many people think that once they become a Christian that all of their troubles will melt away. Well, that’s very far from the truth. When you look back at the heroes of the faith in chapter 11, it’s very clear that the lives they lived for God were not easy.
Just as in any race, there’s hills and valleys. You don’t feel the hills when you’re driving, but just the slightest incline is immediately felt when you’re running. Every race has ups and downs, just remember that you’re not running alone…God is with you. Keep your eyes focused on Him and don’t give up, a valley is just on the other side of the hill!
Secondly, we must stay in shape if we’re going to run the race successfully. Just as being physically fit is necessary to run a natural race, being spiritually fit is necessary for a successful spiritual life. What does spiritual fitness look like? The answer is godliness.
Paul writes in First Timothy chapter 4 that bodily training has limited benefits, but godliness is beneficial in every way. It’s not only beneficial in this life, but also in the life to come. Anything that you train in with the intent to be successful is going to cost you something.
I researched how much it cost to begin golfing. The price ranged from $832 to over $3000! Training in godliness won’t cost us money, but it will cost us time, discipline and sacrifice. Things such as authentic godly relationships, personal and corporate worship, prayer, and bible reading are all absolutely necessary to be fit and successful in your spiritual race.
Lastly, if we’re going to be successful in our spiritual race, we’ll need to lay some things aside. Paul mentions laying aside two things: hindrances and sin. We all know what sin is…it’s anything that opposes the will of God.
But hindrances are different…they’re not necessarily sinful, but they are the things that prevent us from running effectively. Have you ever noticed the attire that runners wear? The clothing is light and skimpy…almost as if they’re not wearing anything. Why is that? The less weight, the faster they can run.
Hindrances can be in the form of habits, relationships, social media, television, etc. We must all be able to recognize the areas that slow down our spiritual race. God has given us the strength, along with His help, to put aside those things in our lives that negatively impact our relationship with Him.
So, it’s time for a new hobby; add to your bodily exercise a spiritual fitness program that holds great promises for your present life as well as for eternity!
Stay safe, stay healthy, and be blessed!