What if you were watching the Olympics, the running events, the runners were all out there, representing their countries, and it went like this? One runner is standing with his hands on his hips, murmuring at how badly the others were running. Another one is over by the grandstands trying to find a date, while the third runner has left the track to go looking for a hotdog stand and says he can’t run when he’s hungry.
The fourth runner is seen laying down taking a nap, right there on the track! Runner five is over by the edge of the track, taking a leisurely walk with her children and says that she needs to have a bit of family time. She did other things all week long, so now, she HAS to spend the race time with her kids.
Each one you choose to look at, clearly makes no effort to win, or at least very little. Two other runners are in a different situation. They KNOW they belong in the race and they love their country that they’re representing, but they’re not sure whether their country actually WANTS them to win. It might not seem humble.
Maybe it’s the will of their country for them to lose or to discover how bad they are! Maybe their country never intended for them to win in THIS race – they were just entered so they’d feel happy when they got back home.
If you saw Olympics like that, you’d wonder what in the world is going on, wouldn’t you? But, that’s pretty much what the spirit world sees when they look at the Christian world “running the race.”
1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Know ye not that they which run in a race ALL run, but only ONE receives the prize? So, run that YOU MAY WIN!” When the runner wins, it brings glory to his or her country and when Christians live for God and runs to win, it glorifies God.
God WANTS you and me to WIN in this life and to win over fear, doubt, covetousness, bitterness, drugs and alcohol. When Jesus is #1 in your life, God gets the glory. Ephesians 2:10 says, “we’re HIS workmanship…” Your life is a testimony to the power of God. His goal is for your life to draw people to Jesus Christ.
The next part of Ephesians 2:10 says, “Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained before, that we should walk in them.” It’s clearly God’s will for good works to flow out of your life. He has things lined up already decreed for you to just WALK in them.
We need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct every part of our lives. To let Him establish new, godly desires and new habits. See, the day to day operations of your life and mine isn’t controlled so much by the daily circumstances, but by habits and desires.
You have a habitual way of responding to things that directs what you do in most circumstances. For example, if you feel like you’re about to be rejected, you have a specific way that you act, a habit of responding a certain way. By the same token, when you feel that someone likes you, you have a specific habit of how you respond.
That’s why it may seem like you make the same mistakes over and over again and are tripped up by the same old things, same temptations and same circumstances. The devil knows your habits and can pretty well predict what you’ll do in a given circumstance. Your desire guides you pretty much the same way, specifically, if you have a strong desire to impress someone and make them like you, it’ll control what you say and do around that person. If you like to feel like you have it all under control and your desire is to be the cool, calm, and an in-control type person, it’ll dictate what you say and do.
Again, you’ll find yourself doing the same kinds of things, meeting and hanging around with the same kinds of people and having the same kinds of failures and pains, no matter WHERE you go, and no matter how many times you change jobs, change churches or move to other areas. Your life isn’t directed by your job, house or geographical location – it’s direct more by your habits and desires.
This is why you need to allow the Holy Spirit to establish new patterns, new habits in your life that are based on the word of God! Otherwise, you’ll always do the same kinds of things and just say, “That’s the kind of person I am. I’ve always been like this. I guess I’ll never change!” Some Christians have allowed their past failures to set habits for them, and they never “cross the Jordan.” They stay back, never becoming involved for very long, never growing and making promises, but never following through for very long, which is all due to the habits of their unrenewed minds.
That’s why Romans 12:2 says, “Be not confused to THIS world, but ye TRANSFORMED by the Word of God.” The way to change those old patterns, and that old thinking is to get into the Word of God and let its power transform your life.
Running to win keeps you from being idle and drifting in life. Proverbs 19:15, “The idle soul suffers hunger.” The word for “idle” in that verse means literally “drifting”. The DRIFTING soul shall suffer hunger. Lots of God’s people are drifters. Their habits put them in a predicament with God. They have a habit of not really reading their Bibles and being here and there on Sunday mornings and never really knowing the thrill of being totally involved in the Body of Christ.
God wants to take you into a place with Him that’s unlike anything you have ever known or experienced and where you’ll be literally walking in His presence and sensing His guidance on a daily basis. But you’ll never get in that place as long as you give into your old desires. When you give into your old desires, you end up having what you DON’T need, and missing out on what you DO need. We can also get in the habit of defending things there’s no defense for!
That’s why you want to get into God’s word everyday – so you can get the knowledge of His will for your life. Spend enough time alone with Jesus everyday that you recognize His voice, and get responsive to His leading. When you really LOVE Him, you’ll find it easy to let Him direct your new habits, into a “pattern of good works,” Titus 2:7, (or a pattern of good, that works).
2 Corinthians 5:14, when you really love Jesus, His love in your life will harness, guide, direct and train you. “The love of Christ constraints us.” 1 John 5:3-4, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and, His commandments are not grievous. Whosoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that over comes the world, even our faith.”
The love of God gives us new habits, abilities and actions, that way you’ll never have to “act” religious. You’ll never have to “fake” it and the love of God will draw you apart to spend time with Jesus. It’ll draw you to fellowship with God’s people, it’ll draw you to church worship and grow. No one will ever have to drag you or scold you into these things.
“Whosoever is born of God overcomes the world.” His Spirit in you can overcome the biggest obstacle the world can throw at you. When you fall in love, your habits and desires change. You want to do what your loved one desires. That’s how falling in love with Jesus changes your whole life. When you love Jesus, you have a heart for Him, you have an energy for Him. The test of love is spending time together, helping, serving, enjoying time together and having joy in being faithful.
Now, you understand what Ephesians 3:17, “we’re rooted and grounded in love.” When your love for Jesus and His love for you roots you and grounds you, you aren’t easily moved. When you’re running in the race of life, the love of God will compel you to run in such a way that you win. You won’t be pulled by one distraction and then another. Your decisions will be clearer and your life will be full of growth, increase and blessing.
When you’ve run the race, you’ll receive the blessing of the Lord that has been reserved for those who LOVED him and were faithful even to the end, even unto death! You’ll enter into the blessing of the Lord now in this life, and in the world to come, into eternal life.
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