“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race…”
Before we can achieve success we must be in the right race. Paul said he “fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.” If it's possible to fight a good fight, then it must be possible to fight a bad fight. And if there is a race we must finish, it must be possible to run hard while running the wrong race. In another letter to the Corinthians, Paul says it's possible to run hard with no purpose (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Have you ever worked hard to achieve a goal and later found the reward to be worthless? This is similar to getting off course and running the wrong race. We may run hard. We may fight with all our might. But if we are not on the right course, the reward will be worthless.
This life offers many options to run for rewards, but Paul reminds us that staying on the right course is the only way we will find ultimate success. How do you know if you are on the right course?
1- Take the course that leads to the best reward. Paul calls it a “crown of righteousness.” This is the crown of victory for winners in the ancient Greek games. Rewards are only worth as much as those who give them to the winner. This makes the best crown the only one awarded by the Lord.
2- Take the course that leads to a guaranteed reward. Jesus is the only person who has completed the course of this life perfectly. To follow Him means we do not try another route by our own effort or design. Blazing our own trail sounds adventurous, but why would we take a chance on missing the greatest reward ever offered? Eternal life is offered by the One who finished the course. And He invites us to travel this course with His strength.
“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
1- What goals have you chased but later found them to be empty?
2- How have some rewards created rivalries, resentment, and jealousies in your life?
3- How does the reward of eternal life motivate you to run hard, but at the same time, free you to help others receive the same reward?