“JUST KEEP RUNNING”                                 By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27                               July 25, 2010.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)      Attitude of an Olympic runner: In the award-winning film Chariots of Fire, one of the characters is legendary British sprinter Harold Abraham. He is obsessed with winning, but in a preliminary 100-meter dash leading up to the 1924 Olympics he was soundly beaten by his rival, Eric Liddell. Abraham’s response is a deep despair. When his girl friend, Sybil, tried to encourage him to continue running, Harold angrily declares, “I run to win. If I can’t win, I won’t run!” Sybil responds wisely, “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”

2)      Attitude of a spiritual runner: Life is full of reversals Christians are not excluded from disappointments, setbacks and failures that make us want to give up. But in the race that is the Christian life, Paul challenges us to keep running. He told the Corinthians, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) We are to run faithfully, spurred on by the knowledge that we run to honor our King and to receive from him an eternal crown. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

 

A CHRISTIAN LIFE IS LIKE RUNNING A RACE:

1)   Each race has its starting point: Just as there are many different races in real sport events, and each race has its length of track and starting point, Christian life is like that as well. We all begin our race at different point of life and for a different measure of length. Some may have Christian family background others may not. Some may start at very young age while others may be at their later years. What is important is we must join the race God calls us to run, it doesn’t matter when to start.

2)   Each person runs in different way: Unlike sports event where all runners in a race need to run the same way, God is gracious to allow each of us to run our course the way it fits us the best. He understands that we are different in our strength and weakness and allows us to run the way that best suits our condition. Just as God creates our fingers in different length, God allows us to run our life He designs for each of us differently. We don’t need to compare with others. God has different expectation for each member of the body to function properly. All we need to do is to run the race faithfully as He wants us to.

3)   Each needs to reach God’s goal: The Bible has so much to say about goals of life God sets for all of us. We may have different goals God sets for each of us, but we all have to run to reach the goal He sets. It is more than to reach a goal, but the goal God wants us to reach. Too often, either we strive hard to reach our personal goals or we allow the world to define our goals of life. Any one who doesn’t reach the goal God sets for him, his run of the race won’t bring him any reward from God.

4)   Each needs to finish his race: No matter when did you start the race, how you run it and what goal you are striving to reach, if you never finish the race to reach the goal, you are done and out. This happens in many walks of life, in many people and for different reasons. We have seen some once dedicated, fervent and effective Christians didn’t finish the race they were called to run. This includes pastors, missionaries and lay people. Paul encourages us by setting his example in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”

 

WATCH THE DANGERS ON THE WAY:

1)    Some refuse to join the race: A race is a strenuous journey. It takes a lot of mental power, discipline and sacrifices to join and run. A spiritual race may demand more than the above. That is why we see some Christians refuse to join the race. They just want the salvation through grace, but don’t want to answer the call to fulfill their responsibilities of being soldiers of God.

2)    Others run for wrong goals: This is a major problem for many Christians. They join the race, but have set up their own goals instead of goals set in the Bible by God. Many of their goals are worldly, materialistic and selfish, far from accomplishing the purpose of God for their life. They run not to fulfill God’s goal but their own goals that have no eternal value at all.

3)    Still others got distracted: This is another danger many good and faithful Christians have fallen into: got distracted along the way. They start with a strong conviction, full of commitment and want to run the race for God. But along the way, life have changed, things have happened, temptations have come and step by step, they stray away from the race God has called them to run. We see pastors abandon their flock for glamour and riches in the world. We see faithful laymen stop serving because of busier schedule in their worldly pursuit. Distraction is very serious problem for Christians to run the race God calls them to.

4)    Finally some fed up and gone: The race to heaven sometimes is not as easy as some would like to see. There are times some get fed up with God because they didn’t get what they believe they deserve. Others get fed up with people who didn’t measure up to their expectation, or flatly failed in their lives. Some get fed up with their own life and won’t admit or change it. You can add few more reasons how and why some get fed up and left the race. These people will drop out of the race for good. They not just drop out with churches, they drop out with God.

 

TIPS ON KEEP RUNNING: (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

1)    Run to win the prize: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” (9:24) Paul was talking about a race in a sports event such as the Olympics. Even all runners runs to get the prize, there is only one will get it. But the Christian race is not the same. Everyone who faithfully runs his race will receive a prize from God. You don’t have to finish the race first to receive a prize. God asks that we be faithful in whatever he assigns us for our lives, and he will reward us with the crowns of righteousness as he did to the apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 4:8b)

2)    Disciplined in training: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into straight training.” (9:25) No one may run a good race to win without straight training and discipline. Same principle applies with Christian race. We need more than just the desire to run and win; we need to put in the necessary discipline and hard training to help us to win. Paying the prices before receiving the prizes is always fair. Be dedicated, ready to sacrifice, willing to serve and work, keeping the rules of the game and focus on the goal God sets for us. All these and more will get you there.

3)    Focus on God’s goal: “Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.” (9:26)It is vitally important that runners run to their goals. In Christian life we must fix our eyes on the goal God sets for us, not to the right nor to the left. Seek the will of God and his direction for your life and fix your eyes as you run.

4)    Not to be disqualified: “But I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; less that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (9:27)Some runners in races were disqualified because they did not follow the rules. Others may be disqualified because they fail in their race. To be qualified to participate and compete in games, you need to follow the rules in training and performance. God has given us a rulebook for our life and it is the Bible. We need to know the rules and subject ourselves to the rules to win the prize.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Don’t be a quitter! “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me.” (Philippians 3:13-14) We all need this attitude in our run for the Lord.

2)   You are invited: All of you are invited to join the race for God. If you have not decided to join, do it today. God has a goal for your life. Don’t waste your time and energy running aimlessly for nothing. Join God’s team for a much more meaningful life.