Sometimes I don’t want to cite verses. The numbers we use to order Scripture often have a way of distancing us from the text. Paul wrote some letters to a really disobedient church. You’re reading a section a little more than halfway through the second letter. Each word of this is the breath of God, as well as the writing of Paul.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
We finished our last softball game yesterday. It was a loss, but only by about 11 this time.
Sometimes we lose really hard (20+ runs). When people try to play well, I verbalize my appreciation; when our play is lackluster, someone who is tuned-in to my body-language would likely detect my frustration. Today, I didn’t even feel bad, I had a fun time playing shortstop and singing “Don’t Worry Baby” with our second baseman.
Ultimately, all I want is for people to hustle…and yeah…have fun. But I can’t have fun without hustling.
Forgetting my rationalization for my feelings about softball, let me just say that if there’s one game you can never take too seriously, it’s the race that God has for every believer. If Paul were writing to me about this game, I know he wouldn’t say that I cared too much about it; he’d exhort me to care much more than I do.
When was the last time I hung my head because of my failure to place God first?
Have I turned my head to the sky wondering when I’ll ever care enough for my friends who haven’t experienced the grace and forgiveness of the Savior?
Do I encourage my friends to run hard as they struggle to do righteousness?
Does their overcoming become my victory?
I think we could all stand to re-evaluate our seriousness about running the race of faith.