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The Christian Marathon

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The Christian Marathon

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The Christian life is like a race, with each running on his or her own track, not competing against each other. This race is not a short one to show who is swiftest, but is like a marathon that tests a person's endurance (Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×
).

I was not an athlete in school, but one day I decided to try a marathon with many fellow students.

In a marathon, when the going gets tough, the body wants to stop, but you urge it on. The legs say they cannot take it anymore, but you tell them they can. The lungs say they are not getting enough oxygen, but you tell them there is plenty in the air and open your mouth wider to suck it in. Only one thing keeps your body going—you!

In a marathon the destination is the finish line and the reward is a trophy for the victor. In the Christian race, the destination is the Kingdom of God and the reward is eternal life for all who endure to the end. "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart [faint, KJV]" (Galatians 6:9 Galatians 6:9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
American King James Version×
).

How can we make sure we finish the race? We can be sure we will have help. Paul said, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:6Being confident of this very thing, that he which has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×
). This should give us confidence that we can make it, come hail, come storm.

God has chosen a team, and He has placed His confidence in us. But now is the training and testing time—a time of overcoming (Revelation 2:26 Revelation 2:26And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
American King James Version×
).

He has given us the rules in the Bible to guide us. We need to be careful that we have understood the rules correctly and have mastered the course we are to follow.

Watching Over Us

Sometimes during a marathon a helicopter watches out for any runners needing help. Jesus Christ, like the helicopter pilot, is watching out for us, listening for any distress calls. He's been through it, so we should keep in constant touch with Him in earnest prayer (Hebrews 4:15-16 Hebrews 4:15-16 [15] For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
American King James Version×
).

Cheering Us On

Back to my regrettable attempt at a marathon. Only a third of the way I wanted to stop, but some fellow students were there, cheering me on. I honestly wished they hadn't come because all I wanted was to stop. But their cheers kept me going. Three quarters of the way I was determined to stop in spite of the cheers, but a group of girls there said I shouldn't give up after having come so far. I exhausted what energy was left in me, and did not cross the finish line, but fell on it. In the Christian race we need the encouragement of the Church, and we need to cheer others on as well (Galatians 6:1 Galatians 6:1Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.
American King James Version×
).

Extra Weights and Sins

Hebrews 12:1 Hebrews 12:1Why seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
American King James Version×
mentions two things that can cause us to fail in the race: the weight we are urged to lay aside and the sin that so easily ensnares us.

Spare shoes, packets of food, towels—all these would be extra weights that over the course of a marathon could defeat a runner. In the spiritual race, fear of losing a job or desires for more physical things can weigh us down. Christ's priorities can help us lay aside these weights (Matthew 6:32-33 Matthew 6:32-33 [32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. [33] But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
).

We each have an area of weakness where we find the sin that so easily ensnares us. Perhaps bad habits constantly tempt us, whether gluttony, drunkenness, lying, etc. At baptism we were given the Holy Spirit to help us remove these sins (Romans 8:13 Romans 8:13For if you live after the flesh, you shall die: but if you through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live.
American King James Version×
).

If we stumble, we think, "What's the use—I'll never get over this!" But Christ our Advocate is there making intercession for us before the Father (1 John 2:1 1 John 2:1My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
American King James Version×
; see also 1:9).

Let us endure to the end. We will enter the Kingdom of God if we persevere in this marathon of life, looking to Jesus' example (Hebrews 12:2 Hebrews 12:2Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
American King James Version×
).

At the end of our lives we should be able to say with the apostle Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Timothy 4:7-8 2 Timothy 4:7-8 [7] I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: [8] From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.
American King James Version×
). UN

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