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Monday, November 10, 2008

Running the Race


John MacArthur


When I was in college, I was a member of our school's track and field team. I performed best in the sprints, and occasionally the quarter mile. One of my favorite races was the mile relay. Of all the races we ran, the one I remember best is one we didn't win.

The race started wonderfully--our first runner ran such a great opening quarter-mile leg that as he passed the baton to me, we were tied for the lead. I ran as hard as I could, and as I passed the baton to our third runner, we were in first place. I thought we had an excellent chance to win--our fourth runner was especially fast.

Our third runner took off like lightening around the first curve and down the back stretch. And then the unthinkable happened. He stopped suddenly, walked off the track, and sat down on the grass. I ran over to him, thinking he must have pulled a muscle. When I reached him, he didn't look like he was in pain, so I asked what was wrong. I'll never forget his reply. All he said was, "I don't know--I just didn't feel like running today."

Sadly, many people are like that runner. Somewhere along the way they stopped pursuing a deep, loving relationship with Christ, walked off His path of righteousness, and sat down to rest in their own self-righteousness and the ease of worldly pleasures. But allegiance and love to Christ demand a lifelong commitment. As our Lord Himself said, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

The apostle Paul understood that priority. His relationship to Christ was the passion of his life: "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead" (Phil. 3:10-11). But he was under no illusion that he had achieved anything, and he compared his own pursuit of Christ to that of a runner in a race (vv. 12-16). Your spiritual race must have that same sense of dissatisfaction--without it there's no reason to even run. In fact, there are several principles you need to apply as you pursue Him.

Read those principles here.
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