Which Race Are You Running?

Having a child is such a blessing.  If you are fortunate enough to be a parent, you know this to be true.  There are, however, things that accompany parenthood that I did not necessarily foresee.  In hindsight, I should have, but I was wrapped up in the joy of pregnancy and the anticipation of the miracle on the way.  It seems that having a child is just another way for people to compare and compete with each other.  When you’re young, it’s, “When are you getting married?”  When you get married, it becomes, “When are you going to have a baby?”  When you have a baby, people want to know, “Is he rolling over?  Is he crawling, walking, talking, making straight A’s, playing football…?”  You get my point.  Now, I know not everyone who inquires about my child is meaning it in a negative way, but there are those who simply ask in order to tell you that they are in fact married with two point five children who at the age of four months have already completed college.  Don’t misunderstand me.  There is nothing wrong with being a proud parent.  I am one.  It is the issue of comparison; to show ourselves better or less than someone else.  This is not a phenomenon that church life is immune to, either.  In ministry, people want to know, “How big is your congregation? How large is your church building?  How many have you baptized?”  As humans, there is within us this potential to compete with each other in every aspect of life.  Dare I say that God placed it there?  Yes, I dare.  The drive to succeed has a purpose, but we, as usual, have misused it.

God designed us to run a race.  We are simply running the wrong one.  We have bought into the “American Dream” with all we are, and we run ourselves ragged trying to achieve it.  We were not meant to keep up with the Jones’.  Instead, the race we were meant to run with our whole selves is the race to share the Gospel; to please God.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Do you not know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything.  However, they do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.  Therefore, I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, or box like one who beats the air.  Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 

Let’s establish the context for this passage.  Paul has just said that he becomes a Jew to the Jews, weak to the weak.  He is doing whatever he needs to do to share the Gospel with everyone (verses 19-23).  The entire chapter is about how Paul is living his life as an example of Christ.  Then he closes with the verses we are looking at.  There is a connection.  The race we are running is one for souls.  The world around us is certainly in a race.  Some may even reach the finish line and obtain a prize that does not last.  Paul, however, through the Holy Spirit, is telling us that there is so much more.  We are to share the Gospel as if we were in a race trying to win it!  That means a significant amount of effort must be exerted.  It requires us to be to be focused, have a plan, be disciplined, and deny ourselves (verses 26-27). 

Is your life centered on sharing the Gospel?  Do you share the saving message of Christ?  How often?  Does it inconvenience you at times?  Do you have a plan of action for reaching the lost?  Are there specific days, times, and places that you have designated as part of your witnessing tactics?  Does this sound like we’re in a war?  We are!   This is spiritual warfare.  We are battling Satan and ourselves.  It is not our natural desire to do God’s will or to tell others about Him!  We have to discipline ourselves and deny ourselves.  Would we rather stay at home, relax, spend time with our family, and unwind?  Sure.  There are those days.  That is when we have to discipline our bodies and go anyway!  I must note here too that we are often tired from things that have nothing to do with the Lord.  There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, but we must also remember our priorities and a word we do not like:  moderation. 

Finally, Paul wants to be the example.  He doesn’t want to be a hypocrite; for his preaching to be dismissed or disqualified because his actions don’t match up with his words (verse 27).  Can we examine this Scripture and walk away thinking we are fine; that our lives are on the right course, and we are doing everything to take the good news to those around us, to those in our state, to the U.S., and to the nations?  Can we boldly proclaim as Paul did, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1)?  I do not think so. We want to elevate Paul because he was an apostle.  Remember, too, that he was a human being like us.  God’s expectations have not changed.  There was not one standard for Paul and another for us.  We are expected to live for Jesus!  We are expected to run the race!  Are you running?  I pray that we all give ourselves completely to the task of reaching the world for Jesus Christ.  May we put more effort into telling the lost about Him than we do our families, jobs, and hobbies.  I hope you are blessed by the Word.  Have a good week!

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7 Responses to Which Race Are You Running?

  1. Whitney Davis says:

    As always, you have shed light on something that we always knew was there; we just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I am constantly inspired and blessed by your blogs, Miranda. All too often, I have even found myself comparing myself to the accomplishments of others and, in turn, started to question my own self-worth. “Why am I about to be 30 and not married? Why does everyone else seem to have a successful career and plenty of money when I struggle just to pay the bare minimum on my monthly bills? What is wrong with me?” God did not create us to all be alike. He created us to be unique both as Christians and ourselves. He doesn’t require us to be THE best; he asks us to do our best, and I’m afraid we often confuse the two.

    • mdsharp1 says:

      It is such a blessing to me to have you read and comment on the blog. My prayer is always that God would use what He lays on my heart to touch other women. You are an amazing person, and God is using you right were you are! Thank you!

  2. Kimberly Harris says:

    Yes I know I need to be more discipline but how do you do that with jobs, in this economy many times two jobs. You have a good point. Most families plan vacation months in advance even years in advance. But how many have someone in mind that they want to talk to about Jesus ? Do we plan that time months ahead, years ahead or do we plan for it at all ? I want that imperishable crown!!! Planning for it years in advance 🙂 Thanks for your post Miranda. Love ya, Kim

  3. Kimberly Harris says:

    I remember those days when my children was young and it seemed to be a constant comparison in conversation. Mostly with family. We even say we are not going to let it bother us but it does to some degree. Almost seems as if they are trying to take the joy of the parent away but as mothers you know that will never happen. As always excellent read Miranda.

  4. becky says:

    Thanks Miranda for once again, causing me to stop and consider what my life is about. Keep on writing! I need to boost and reminders.

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