Running Rules for a Strong Finish: Rule #2: Take Action To Be Prepared

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March 2016
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Steve CoxLast month, I began a series of articles based on the Biblical teaching that living the Christian life is analogous to running a race. The first teaching focused on accepting the race that God lays out for each of us, and not getting caught up in comparing our race to others, wishing we were running a different race.

This month’s teaching focuses on the responsibility each of us has to be adequately prepared for our race. As I mentioned before, I am not a good runner, and I don’t like running. But, when I do run, I often recite II Corinthians 9:24-27 over and over to myself. It keeps me going. This passage encourages each of us to go into “strict training” and to prepare our bodies to endure the race. 

Similarly, Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. 

When I was on the track team in High School, we would each carry a gym bag with us, holding all the equipment necessary to compete, and all of our possessions we would need for the day. We would wear a track suit over our gym shorts and tee shirt to help us keep warm and limber. 

But, when it came time to compete in the race, we would put aside our gym bag and remove our track suits, anything that would hinder or entangle us, as we sought to do our absolute best in the race. Hebrews 12:1 tells us there are two types of things we need to strip off, or throw off, because they will hinder our race. 

First, we need to prayerfully evaluate ourselves for “unnecessary weights” (Amplified Bible), also described as “everything that hinders” (NIV). We even use a similar term today, talking about the “excess baggage” we carry with us as we live out our lives. It is easy for us to hold on to past hurts, disappointments, and feelings of inadequacy. We can not only hold onto our excess baggage, but we can even get to the point of letting it control and define our lives. In my interactions with others over the years, I have met a number of people who seem to think and talk only about some past hurt or disappointment as the defining moment of their lives and even now controlling their lives. 

But, this is not how our Lord intends for us to run the race. We can give everything that hinders us over to God, casting our anxieties on Him (I Peter 5:7). And, we can seek out others to come alongside us in the race and ask them to help carry our burdens (Galatians 6:2).

Second, we not only have to overcome our past hurts and feelings of inadequacy, we also have to deal with “the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us” (Amplified Bible). We all have a tendency towards besetting, or habitual, sins. Those sins that keep showing up in our lives and distancing us from God and from other people. As with our hindrances, we need to seek the Lord’s help and the help of some trusted fellow believers for their support and guidance in throwing off these sins.

Only as we throw off everything that that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles can we “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Steve Cox signature

Steve Cox
Director of Adult Ministries

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