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A very interesting word occurs in a familiar Bible passage that helps us to understand something of our Christian lives upon the earth. The passage is Heb. 12:1-2 and the word translated “race.”

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2)

The Greek word for “race” is the word “agon” from which we get the English word “agony.” This reveals some information about the race we are to run for Christ.

First, we can see that the Christian race is a marathon, not a sprint. We are to run with endurance. It is a race that lasts our whole lives upon the earth. Paul ran this race to the very end. He finished the course Christ set for him. That is why he could write, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). We must not give up the Christian race, but make sure we endure to the end (Matt. 10:22). It is not the order of our finishing it that is important, it is simply a matter of finishing it. If I were ever to run a 26-mile marathon, simply finishing would be victory. And so it is with everyone who endures and finishes the Christian race.

Secondly, we can see that the Christian race is agonizing at times. We need to remember that God has not promised an always smooth journey, but He has promised a safe one. The Christian life is a battle at times. It is not always easy. There are often many difficulties accompanied with it. It is often grueling and there are many temptations to quit. And, sad to say, many do bow out. But the victor’s crown only comes at the finish. We are guaranteed that all the pain is worth it. “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you” (1 Pet. 5:10). “Blessed is the man who endures…for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (Jas. 1:12).

So don’t give up! Keep running the race. The finish line’s in sight!

Edd Sterchi
Broadway church of Christ
Campbellsville, KY

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