Victory belong to you in the Race of Life...........The grace of God is Sure!

1. Victory belong to those in the race
2. Who run patiently, despising all shame and reproach till the end!


VICTORY belong to those who keep looking at the goal, not those looking at the process or those attempting to win or even those contemplating to compete. Victory belong to those people who are focused on the reward of success, the treasure promised the winner.

When you look at Heb 12:1-2 talks about christian race or stewardship.  The christian race is a worthy race that has much benefits to those that will run well and run with patience.  As a life long race, patience is demanded because life presents us with different opportunities and threats at various times and seasons of life.

The christian race is a unique race with heavenly and earthly spectators watching you and cheering you.  You must remember that your friends, members of your family, colleagues and neighbours are watching you.  

What and why are they watching you?  To see the Saviour in you as you speak, walk and do your business daily. They know that Christ in you, the hope of glory and so when Christ gets into you, your glorious walk in the spirit and in the physical begins.  Has yours began?

The cloud of witnesses are those God's faithful servants who have died, holding their faith strong on the Lord. They are also watching and cheering us up, each step in the way to encourage us to remain steadfast till the end.

What is the Christian Race

Paul took time to reflect on the Christian race with the brethren in Corinth and in the book of Hebrew, he challenged them to remember that spectators are watching and cheering them, but that does not mean they can run any-how, NO!  They must run according to the rules, otherwise such a runner will not win the trophy.

The Corinthians thought they could live as they pleased now they were saved. They believed their spiritual freedom gave them rights and privileges others did not have. They coined phrases, like, " all things are lawful for me, " and " food is for the body and the body is for food. " So Paul responded to these beliefs by saying this in 1 Corinthians 6:12-13:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.    

Paul encouraged them not to place a stumbling block before their weak brethren and unbelievers by their freedom.  The freedom should be used for selfless service to God and man and not for themselves. He used the analogy of running a race to describe the Christian life. It is like running a marathon, a long distance race that requires preparation and endurance.

In the earthly race, many people run a race, but one person receives the price.  But in Christian race, it is not the same, everyone who runs well according to the rules is a winner.  The question therefore is:

How do you run the Christian race? 
Paul says you should run to win.  Prepare your heart and mind that you will win the race, that spectators will not mock you out of the race, and that weakness of the body will not hinder you.  Prepare adequately and be ready to face the heat of the day.

To win in the christian race, Paul gives three requirements. 
1. According to the Rules
2. In Self Denial  
3. In Self determination 
4. In self Discipline

The following are the rules:

1. Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 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 is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Be prepared to resist the devil and all his agents and their temptations, even unto blood. This also speaks of trials and hard times ahead of the Christian race.

5 Be ready for the corrections of the Lord...speaks of that fact that we will make mistakes, fall-off the rapper many times and sometimes walk away into a wrong direction without knowing, but God is faithful, who will correct us and bring us back into the right way to go. Don't despise the Lord's rebuke and His chastenings.

6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

7 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

8. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

9. Race requires a lot of self discipline - A wise runner does not look back, but focused and dedicated to the goal.  He stays within the limits of the raceway, laying aside  every guile, greed, hate, selfishness, pride etc.

10. The race also requires alot of self denial - Humble yourself and be available to serve the Lord in truth and spirit. Those things you are used to that does not please God, you stop them and whatever God hates, you must hate those things also and finally 

11. You carry your cross along the way -  Whatever causes you pain and shame, take them to the Lord and continue serving Him till He resolves them.  Nothing should make you stop serving the Lord, Pain, trouble, rejection, poverty etc should not separate you from the Lord or His service for ever!

In biblical times, people would mainly run into battle and from threats of danger. Today, we mostly run for competitive races and maintaining our health. Despite this difference, we can still find inspiration from scripture when seeking motivation to run. Let this collection of Bible Verses about running remind you of its great importance.

Self Denial  

Self denial is one of the requirements for success in every endeavour of man. You have to identify things, food, recreation and other things that will hinder your body or efforts and cut them off.  If success matters to you, then you will have to identify stumbling blocks to that success and deal with them.  This was what Paul was saying when he alluded that those who compete are temperate in all things. 

The word temperate means self controlled, to practice abstinence. This involves a choice to abstain from all indulgences of the flesh, whether it is local food delicacies, wine and drinks etc. Pleasures of life that that could hinder success were to be denied the body. Many times, a child of God wants to fast and pray, but the body is not willing or ready to cooperate with you.  What do you do?  Deny the body those sweet things of life it loves and do so for days, you will see the body will cooperate with you.

The Christian must be in control of his body and mouth all the time, otherwise your body and mouth would like to control you. You should be self controlled in mind and body if you desire continuous progress in your Christian walk. This is what Paul was admonishing them in Hebrews 12:1 saying: 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, 

There weights hindering our service to the Lord, which we should be bold to face and deal with.  We must lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. A weight is not the same thing as a sin. A weight does not break God's law, but it does hinder us in the Christian race. It is something that distracts us from more important things. An athlete wanting to win will get rid of it so that he can concentrate on running his race.

Believers need to be self controlled in the way they run the race of life. We must consider the spectators watching us and the impact of our behaviour and conducts on them. We need to refrain from those things that would encumber us in our race. We are free to eat and drink what we like! But what if our freedom to drink alcohol causes our brother or a non Christian to stumble? Good food is one of pleasures of life that we all enjoy.  

Should we show restraint in how much we eat? Can we eat everything we see and at every location, the answer is NO! The Bible did not address smoking directly, but if we are running to win, smoking must be considered a hindrance and not an advantage. 

All things are lawful for us, but not all things edify. We are free to watch many things on T.V. But very little of what is shown on T.V. is edifying or good for us. Music is another area that care is needed. How many of the gospel music we hear today edify the body?  One day I was singing along a Christian wife I like listening to and I believe the Lord spoke to me that the music I am singing happily was sang by a witch.  The wordings were good, but the singer was not worthy. Is your favourite musicians in the faith, do they even know the Lord?

Self Determination

1 Corinthians 9:26 says: Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 

Determination is the 'never give-up spirit' that make people do their best and even exceed their own expectation. To win in any sport competition takes self control and denial. But it also requires determination. Athletes must be totally committed to winning and plan their training to enable them win. 

You will have to give attention to God's requirements and His will for us and humanity and plan how your time and resources will be deployed to achieve God purpose.  Joseph, the husband of Mary cooperated with God to bring His begotten Son to the earth.  The Bible says Joseph and Mary did not meet as husband and wife until she gave birth to the Holy Child Jesus Christ, and nobody in the community heard about it.  This is why the Jews kept asking "Is not this the Carpenter's son, whose sisters and brothers are here with us?

Paul showed with his actions and speech that he knew what God wanted him to do and he stayed focused on God will and plan for his life and ran the race to the finishing line.  Paul decided that he was going to win the prize and everything he did gravitated towards his goal. He did not run just anywhere but stayed on the right course. Paul had the finish line in mind and ran decisively to reach it. 

Believers need to identify who they are in Christ, and what assignment the Lord has called them to fulfill and then pursue it without negotiation. We must have a firm conviction about our calling and the requirements, then we should have a plan on how to execute the plan.  If possible, we should have plan B, heading to the same direction, meaning the plans are mere strategies o achieving the goal set before us.

Without controversy, the next thing is to develop capacity for the assignment.  Get training required of you and continue to upgrade your skills, whether it is to preach, teach, Evangelize etc. Let every training and development effort be directed at your purpose and goal. Christians are running a race that will finish in glory. Yet many runners invest most of their time and money on things that will remain on earth. How much time do you spend in prayer, interceding for the unsaved, your church and work of God and even your country? How many hours do you spend in the word and or  in quite time with the Lord? What about your spiritual gifts, are you exercising them or are they dormant in your life?

Only money invested in God's kingdom will pay dividends in eternity. Yet so many justify spending thousands of dollars on houses, cars and appliances that are only temporal whilst neglecting the Lord's work. Are possessions keeping you from giving to the Lord's work? Are you investing in time or eternity? When believers run like this I can't help but feel that we have taken our eyes off the finish line. Do you evaluate your race from time to time? Are you achieving your goals in the Christian race? Are you focused on the finish line? Or have you been distracted along the way? Let us run decisively, so that all we do will count for Christ. Let us spend our time, talents and money for Christ! Let us Run to Win!

Self Discipline

Discipline has to do with both self control and determination.  Discipline is a quality that commits a person to a cause without fail.  Jesus says - "Whosoever puts his hands in the plough and looks back is not worthy of me".  It means a decision of no return. 

Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27: But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.  

Discipline has to do with calculated decision, which a person makes and he is ready to bear the consequences of his decision, rather than rescind the decision. The Kings in the bible, when they make a vow, irrespective of what obstacles they may encounter in fulfilling the vow, they will never cancel or repeal their vow.

When it was time for Paul to embark on a journey that will lead to his death, he had premonitions, but was not moved.  He says  "And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, "except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  

The Christian should calculate the cost of running the race to win and prepare his mind never to give-up.  He must know that persecution, trial, spiritual and physical attacks are involved.  Many times, hunger, rejection and loneliness are all part of the package.  But we have the Lord Jesus Christ interceding for us in heaven, we have the Holy Spirit to help and guide us.  So, we should run to win will all persevere, trials, suffering and sickness. We should look beyond the pains and see the joy that awaits us at the finish line.

Get started - Begin

In order to run the race we must first begin. There is no way to win a race if you aren’t running. To win the race requires that you get in the race. We cannot serve God from the starting blocks Winning starts when the daring to begins. It is impossible to be victorious without doing.

The starting point is to repent of your sin, accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour in your heart and ask Him to come into your life and help you to serve Him in truth and spirit.

When you have started, you then plan to win: 1 Cor 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

NOW, the basic qualification for the race is receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour of your soul.  When a person has crossed from the kingdom of darkness, from the world systems into the kingdom of God, he becomes qualified to be listed among the runners in the race of life.  

Given that you are listed, you first priority should be to know the rules of the race that will guide your conduct throughout the race.  

Get Prepared 

Success requires preparation.  If we want to win, we must prepare. Life is full of unexpected events and we must be ready at a moments notice.  If you want to excel as an athlete you must go into training.

The same is true of Christianity. We need spiritual workouts – Time in prayer, time in the Word, time in worship.  To win the race requires that we are ready. Though the Holy Spirits help our infirmities, our weaknesses, but we must be determined to take control of our thought and body.  The practice of our self-control is our responsibility (2 Peter 1:4-7).  The point here is not necessarily abstinence, but having a strong control of our appetites and passions.

The Christian should run as the winner runs., not with pride that he has arrived, but with all humility, submitting to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. Paul said in Phil 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

Heb 12:1 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,

We must prepare ourselves for the race and run it credibly.

Keep Moving - This race isn’t over until we cross the finish line.

If we want to win the prize we must pursue excellence in everything that we do. Paul is telling us that we cannot settle to watch from the sidelines but that we must be involved.

We must be willing to take action, alter our plans and attitudes when necessary and keep moving – even when we feel like giving up

The value of the prize was not monetary but symbolic. The prize for Paul was a sense of satisfaction that God was using him in ministry. That he had used all his energies and talents and gifts for God’s glory, for the good of the kingdom.

That’s what Paul lived for. He described that prize in Philippians 3:14 - “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  It is not a crown of riches, but a crown of glory.


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