The life of the Christian in the world is presented in the Word and especially by the apostle Paul, like a race toward a mark which we are trying to reach: “We press toward the mark,” “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). “I press toward the mark for the prize of high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” “But this one thing I do: forgetting those things behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press…” One of the characters of the Christian it is that he has before him a Mark, a hope, a certitude: the rest, the glory, the peace, and the love. He knows that CHRIST awaits him to receive him in the Father’s House where his place is ready. He presses toward the mark, with this precious thought that JESUS himself will come (1 Cor.14:52). In a moment in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet…He can come and take him to obtain without strain with his beloved, the wonderful trumpet…He can come and take him to obtain without strain with his beloved, the wonderful mark that His grace glitters before us.
What a contrast between such a race and that of an unbeliever who is walking blindly in front of the Abyss, the death, the judgment, instead of running; trying to fasten himself at everything he finds to prolong his race, to delay the end. What a sad condition to the one who is without God, without hope in the world to long for the worldly things where is emptiness, where everything passes. Or where nothing can satisfy the heart, or even the short joys that we may find, have an end, the sorrow… “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful and the end of mirth is heaviness” (Pro. 12:13).
The race of the believer seems to be long sometimes and often difficult, that is why it is said to run with patience the race which is before us, patience and hope which helps us run faster with more courage when we are nearing the mark. It is necessary to be able to run this way, to have before us without ceasing the mark we try to obtain with the desire to get it. We have to run straight to the mark without going astray on the way of faith. “Let thine eyes look right on and let the eyelids look straight before thee” (Pro. 14:25). “Ponder the path of thy feet and let all thy way be established, turn not to the right hand nor to the left, remove thy foot from evil” (Deut. 5:32). Run the race like the apostle Paul with the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. We will have to fight the enemy: he is always actively seeking to stop us, “Whom resist steadfast in the faith” (1 Pe. 5:9). Look forward to the race which before us, “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” says the apostle. “I press toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He always had his eyes fixed on Jesus and exhorts us not to remove our glance from Him. We have to turn them neither to the right to try to find in ourselves some encouragement, or some strength to pursue the race; neither to the left to rest, being wearied, “lest we be wearied and faint in your mind” (Heb. 12:3).
No obstacle will be able to stop us in our race, nothing is going to make us flinch, and nothing is going to trouble us, if we do not loose sight of the goal. CHRIST himself, our SAVIOR, our life, our hope, the one who loves us, and the one who will have us forever with HIM. The LORD whom we can contemplate through faith, “but we all with open eyes…” (2 Cor.3:18). We are running to Him: do not be stopped or be turned away. Never forget what the Lord said to His disciples, “You are in the world, but not of the world.” This shows us that we have to pass through this world like strangers running; that our hearts do not stop there.
To the Galatians who had been carried away from the path of faith the apostle says, “Ye did run well, who did hinder you?” (Gal. 5:7). They had forsaken the gospel of grace from Christ; they had stopped to go to another gospel (Gal. 1:6) instead of continuing the race, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
The apostle Paul presents the race like an athlete who is running in the arena. He is trying to do everything to gain the prize. We have to run alone to get it, to obtain the incorruptible crown, the prize of the heavenly call. We have to put aside everything which could stop our walk, having our hearts empty, knowing what is our goal; not like “as one beating the air” (2 Cor. 9:26). “Know ye not that they which run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize, so run that ye obtain” (1 Cor. 9:24). At the end of his life the apostle can say in very good conscience, “for I am ready to be offered, and my time of departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth 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 unto all to them also who love his appearing” (2 Tim. 6:8).
Dear saints, don’t we have to ask ourselves if we are really running? Are we not stopping if we turn our glance to the right or to the left or in any way fail to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus?
Translated from French by
Jean Moinat -- Switzerland