Running the Entire Race

Scripture

Illustration

When it was said to Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, “Thou art now an old man, rest from thy labors;” he answered, “If I have run long in the race, will it become me to slacken my pace when come near the end; should I not rather stretch forward?”

Hebrews 12:1 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Text

Philippians 3:13-14 (NASB)
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for your love, mercy, grace, and other blessings too numerous to count. Please bless the reading of your Word. I pray You have adequately prepared my to deliver your message as well as the hearts and minds of those You would have receive it. May the lessons learned bring us into a closer, more intimate relationship with You and assist us in bringing honor and glory to your name. Please forgive me of my sins. I pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Probing Question

How should Christians run the race?

Main Points

As Christians, if we are still breathing, we are still in the race.

Philippians 3:13a (NASB)
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;…

Paul expressed to the Philippians that whatever blessings, graces, honors, and gifts he had already received from Jesus Christ; he still considered everything incomplete until his earthly work was done and he was called home, receiving his resurrected, glorified body.

So how should the race be run?

1. Christians Should Run the Race With Purpose

Philippians 3:13b (NASB)
13 … but one thing I do:…

Paul recognized his most important reason for existing, his sole purpose for being, was to honor and glorify Jesus Christ by fulfilling the will of God in his life.

Philippians 1:21a (NASB)
21 For to me, to live is Christ…

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

What is God’s will for our lives? That’s a subject for many other sermons; but, to name just a couple:

  • God wills that all be saved.

1 Timothy 2:3b-4 (NASB)
3 … God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  • God wills that the Gospel be given to all nations of the Earth.

Matthew 28:19-20a (NASB)
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;…

2. Christians Should Run the Race With Focus (i.e., Without Distractions)

Philippians 3:13c (NASB)
13 … forgetting what lies behind…

Paul recognized his conduct was not regulated or influenced by others; only his Master, calling, work, and objective.

Looking back is sure to end in going back.

Luke 9:61-62 (NASB)
61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

While others might mistakenly think they had time to linger, Paul knew he did not. Time was of the essence, eternity was at hand, and everything was at stake. Peter confirms:

1 Peter 4:7 (NASB)
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

3. Christians Should Run the Race With Effort

Philippians 3:13d (NASB)
13 … and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

Paul recognized he was not only running for life; but, running for his life. The race required all the strength he could muster.

Illustration

The story is told of the big lumberjack who bought a brand new chainsaw and was told it could cut down at least 100 trees a day. But on the first day he only managed to cut down 25 trees. The next day he tried harder and finally cut down 33 trees. The third day he started early, worked late, and even cut his lunch break short, but he still managed to cut down only 48 trees.

He went back to the store and confronted the manager with his complaint. He told him of his efforts and of the results. The manager couldn’t quite understand what had gone wrong, so he asked to take a look. He grabbed the starter rope and pulled hard, and the motor started with a roar.

The lumberjack jumped back in alarm and yelled, “Hey, what’s that big noise?”

4. Christians Should Run the Race With Integrity

Philippians 3:14a (NASB)
14 I press on toward the goal…

In Paul’s day, there were white lines, in the stadium where the races were held, which stretched from the starting line to the goal, upon which the runners would focus; for if they ran either to the left or the right or ran beyond the line, they violated the rules and were not crowned victorious, even if they were the first to reach the goal.

Paul recognized how we run the race is just as important as our running it. In one of his letters to the Corinthians he comments:

1 Corinthians 9:27 (NASB)
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

5. Christians Should Run the Race With Encouragement

Philippians 3:14b (NASB)
14 … for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Finally, Paul never lost sight of the rewards that awaited him for faithfully serving God. This provided encouragement for him regardless of any trial or tribulation he had to endure.

Conclusion

Paul knew that as long as he had breath, he was to be in service to Christ. His service would not be complete until Jesus’ return or until the Lord called him home. Therefore, he would serve the Lord with all his being and rejoice at such time the Lord considered his work complete and called him home.

Philippians 1:20-21 (NASB)
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Make no mistake, we are running in a race.

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Let us faithfully run it to completion to the honor and glory of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for your Word. May we meditate upon it and listen carefully as the Holy Spirit convicts us of those things in our life, which need attention. May You find us faithful and obedient to respond. May we sense the urgency in our Christian lives and run the race with a renewed sense purpose, focus, effort, integrity, and encouragement. We pray these things in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expectations for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by filling out the Contact Form below.

I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

Contact Form