Running the Race

Since the opening of the London Olympics on 27 July, 2012, people around the world has been inundated with daily news of athletes and sportsmen and women competing and fighting for the supreme prize of being crowned champions whether as an individual or as a team in their respective sports or events. Needless to say, all these competitors have put in a lot of hard work, long hours of training and personal sacrifices into their sports to win the gold medals. As usual there will be celebrations of joy for those who win and tears and sadness for those who fail to achieve any glory. There will be some poor losers and some magnanimous winners who went out of the way to console their defeated rivals. Some sportsmen like the swimmer, Michael Phelps and the world’s fastest runner, Usain Bolt have achieved the ultimate and earned the status of being sports legends. We will see the best from some competitors like the women’s marathon runners. All of them run with unbelievable endurance in this grueling 42 km race. To them it is not just winning that counts. Even those runners who were lagging behind the leaders would bravely finish the race. For them just to complete the race was as good as winning a gold medal. It is this sense of achievement which gives them the greatest satisfaction. However, the Olympic Games also brought out some ugly sides of the human nature. To the ‘cheats’, winning at all cost is their motto. Some like the women badminton players would rather ‘throw away’ the match in order to get an easier passage to the finals. Others took drugs to enhance their performances. The Bible has a lot to say about sports. The Apostle Paul used metaphors of the Greek games to get spiritual truths across to the churches and also to us. From the many biblical references in the NT regarding the games , we can glean several spiritual lessons for our edification. First, the call of our Lord to salvation and discipleship is a call to run the race. The day we responded by faith to the gospel call, we not only were born again but also were put into the arena of life to run the spiritual race (Heb. 12: 2). We are “born to run” so to speak. Our Lord who is our Captain and Coach, had set the good example for us to follow. Secondly, this race involves preparation, training and a lot of self discipline on our part (1 Cor. 9: 25, 26). Paul revealed that he subjected his body under strict discipline and training so that he might win the prize. Later at the end of his life, he could triumphantly declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2Tim. 4: 7). Someone has said, ‘It is not how well you begin; it is how well you finished that counts.’ Let us do the same so that at the end of the day, we could say, ‘I have fought hard, run well and kept my part of the bargain.’ Lastly, as Christians, we can all look forward to the heavenly and eternal reward from our Savior. Paul reminded us that the world’s competitors did their best to get a perishable crown, but for us our reward will be an imperishable one- a crown of glory. We can only receive this reward if we run the race according to the rules (2 Tim. 2: 5). Let this be a warning as well as an incentive for us to be faithful to our Lord till death (Rev. 2: 10). Then at the end of our earthly life we will hear His commendation, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Let us keep all these truths in mind as we run the race that is set before us. Let us seek and strive by faith to achieve the motto of the Olympics: Faster, Higher, Stronger. Amen.

Rev. Mark Tay