All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. —Philippians 3:15
Paul has just written one of the most poetic, most memorized passages in all of scripture. He has told us to forget the past, to persevere, to press on toward the prize, to stay focused on the upward call of God in Jesus Christ. Now, he addresses us in two categories: mature Christians, who are already running the race with him, and less mature Christians, who are sitting on the sidelines as spectators.
Paul has made it clear that none of us have attained perfection. Rather, we are being made perfect through this race called life. Each mountain we conquer, each trial we face draws us a little closer to our goal of becoming like Christ. Those of us who are mature in our faith need to remember the glorious prize for which we run – the prize of God’s pleasure in a life well-lived. When we are weary, when we fall, when we feel like giving up, we need to just pull ourselves up by our faith–straps and keep going. God has given us strength for the journey, and He will continue to do so.
But what about those of us who haven’t really been running the race? Oh, we have watched from the sidelines. We have attended church, perhaps even been moved by a stirring sermon. We compliment the pastor. Or we criticize him for being long-winded. We find ways to comment on how this ministry could be more effective, or how that dear brother or sister has really messed up. We are couch-commentators. We watch. But we aren’t really participants in the race that God has called us to run.
Paul doesn’t write about his faith in order to brag about it. Rather, he wants to encourage us all to jump in the race! We need to stop focusing on the other runners, and focus on the prize! God Himself will help us do just that, if we want Him to. All we need to do is ask Him! God never intended for any of us to watch others claim the prize for themselves, as we stand by, whispering about whether or not they deserve to wear the victor’s crown. He wants us all to compete, all to complete the race, and all to receive the prize!
Are you weary of running the race? Keep going, and don’t give up! Have you convinced yourself that you are not a runner? Ask God to change your way of thinking. Ask Him to help you join the race, and He will. He wants nothing more, my friends, than to see us succeed in this race called the Christian life.
Dear Father, Please help me to run the race You have called me to run. Help me to stay focused on You, and help me not to give up.
*This article was originally written/published by the author under the title “Not a Spectator Sport.”