Scripture exhorts us to ”run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1), and the Apostle Paul refers to our race repeatedly (1 Cor. 9:24, Gal. 5:7, 1 Tim. 2:11). The question is, “What race are we running?” Our goal is not success in the rat race, which consumes us with busy-ness and distracts us from God’s great blessings. The race to which God’s Word refers is the race of life, where the winners obtain the prize of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Everyone human born in this world needs for grace (John 3:3); in fact, grace is our biggest need (Romans 3:23). Thus, every day from the time we are born of water is a race to find the grace we need to secure salvation from our sin. It is only through being born again through the Spirit of God that we can win the race and avoid an eternity of torment. This means only two categories of finishers exist – those who find grace and salvation during their race and those who fail, resulting in eternal separation from God.
We measure foot races by the distance or duration, such as 5K, 10K, or 26-mile marathon races. In auto racing, the race at Le Mans lasts 24 hours. The race to grace in our lives can be thought of in a similar manner. If you live a typical life, your race will be on the order of 26,000 days, not 26 miles. A life of 26,000 days equates to an age of 71 years, a milestone achieved by many. Despite increasing longevity, however, fewer and fewer people today achieve victory in the race to grace. Thus, the duration is not as important as the perspective one adopts towards the time allotted to the race.
Perspectives center on needs. If you ask most people what their most important need in life is, most respond by desiring a better job, a larger salary, a new house, improved health, a more unified marriage, or an advanced education. Any of these may in fact be a particular need in your life, but none of these represent your greatest need. Most of us don’t even recognize what our greatest need is, and thus, our desperate need for grace. Some of these things are part of the Earthly rat race, whereas others are more spiritual. Regardless of where a desire falls on the spiritual scale, the greatest need anyone has is divine grace from a Holy God.
In most races, contestants are given an equal start so none has an inappropriate advantage over another. This is not true for Christianity. Some children are born into Christian homes and are taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ from day one, thus giving them a great spiritual advantage. Others are born to non-Christian parents and rely on the obedience of Christians to share the Gospel with them. Still others have huge barriers placed in front of them, being born in countries where Christian converts are persecuted or killed. It doesn’t seem fair that some are blessed whereas other are not, yet God has a perfect plan and He blesses whom He blesses (Exodus 33:19). Those who started at a disadvantage will be treated justly (Matthew 20:1-16).
As in a foot race, the race to grace contains dropouts who fail to attain the prize. These souls are the chaff to be burned in the fire (Matthew 25:41). Others succeed in obtaining grace, yet exert only minimal effort in their walk with God. They will make it into Heaven, but only as one escaping from the flames (1 Corinthians 3:15), or as one pastor put it, “With coat tails burning!” The truly blessed put all their effort into work for God’s Kingdom and look forward to hearing the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
It is normal to run the race to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and His grace. We must run a good race, which means staying on the narrow road that leads to the narrow gate to Heaven, Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:13-14). Those who dawdle risk running out of days (James 4:14), for we must confess our faith in order to secure it (Romans 10:9). Dawdlers also risk losing the race through temptation. Those who find grace must still struggle, for trials and temptations will arise (John 16:33).
When Adam sinned and the human race fell from grace, the race to grace began. God has been gracious to give us the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ to atone for our sins so we may reenter His grace, but we must do it by choice. Your days and those of your loved ones are numbered (James 4:14) and the clock is ticking. No matter which side of 26,000 days you are on, evaluate yourself today and see where you stand in the race to grace and your efforts on behalf of others. It’s the only race worth winning.
“I’m Normal.” – I AM
It’s God talking to you.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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