The apostle Paul said that the Christian life is like running in a race. Through this study, we will learn what the Christian race is and who is to run in it. We will also discuss how to prepare, how to run, what happens if you fall down, and what happens when you win.
Every game has people who:
Set the rules
Compete in the game
Judge the competition
Give the prize
Who does these in the Christian race? [God does everything but compete and we compete]
You have to know what the rules are and how to play a game or run a race. If you don’t start, how can you win it? You must be prepared for when the race starts.
What would happen if you had a race and no one knew the rules? No one knew where to start or finish or which road to take. What would happen if the rules were in a different language and you did not understand the rules?
The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:5 An athlete does not win unless he competes according to the rules.
Life is the race and God has set the rules for us to follow, and we find those rules in the Bible. Not knowing the rules is no excuse. We need to study God’s word to learn His rules for us. 2 Timothy 3:17 says Using the Scriptures, those who serve God will be prepared and will have everything they need to do every good work.
God’s rules are all through the bible. We can find a few in Matthew.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
The first thing Jesus says is ‘Love the Lord your God.’ Love is interesting because the Greeks have six different words for love while we just have the one. Here Jesus uses agape. Agape is defined as God’s love for man and man’s love for God. This is a sacrificial love that expects nothing in return. This means we willingly and cheerfully sacrifice time, money, talents and anything else for God.
The next bit is even more “with all your heart.” The Greek word is Kardia. This is defined as the organ in the body, but also, the center of one’s physical and spiritual life. The center of our lives. So we are to turn over our loves, our desires, our hopes, our dreams and our passions to God. Woah! That is the whole shebang. Yes, it is.
“With all your soul.” Soul in Greek is Psuche. It means the breath of life or the vital force that animates our bodies. Your soul is the part of you that will live forever. FOREVER! This means that you love God with that piece if you that Jesus saved and will live forever. Loving God with all your soul requires you feed your soul regularly and think of the eternal benefits before the physical.
“With all your mind.” This is the last way that Jesus says to love God. Mind is Greek is Dianoia. This is the faculty of understanding, feeling and thinking. So read this way we need to start Loving God with a sacrificial love in every aspect of our life. We need to love him everywhere at all times with everything inside of us no matter what our situation is.
We are not done yet Jesus is still talking. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This one is pretty easy to understand, but hard to do. Love here is agape just as before sacrificial love. So we are to sacrificially love everyone as you love yourself. Agape love is not linked to any emotions. It is linked to actions.
15.If you love me, you will do what I command.
Now we need to get ready for our race. What do you need to do to run in a race? You need to put on your running shoes and line up on the starting line to be ready for the “GO!” signal, don’t you?
Jesus told a story about ten women who were preparing for a special “race”. Each woman needed to have a lamp lit, when the groom showed up to go into the wedding party. They didn’t know when the groom would come.
We don’t know exactly when the “GO!” signal will be given, but we must be ready! In the story, 5 women brought extra oil for their lamp and 5 women did not. Jesus says that five of the women were wise, and five were foolish.
The women who ran out of oil for their lamps, could not turn on their lights. They had to go to the store to buy oil. While they were gone, the groom showed up and they were not there. They were not on the starting line! When they returned, the others had already started the party and the doors were shut. They were not allowed in. How sad they must have been to have waited all that time, but because they weren’t prepared, they didn’t get to go to the party!
For the Christian race, Jesus says we are to put Him on, much like we put our shoes on, to prepare to run. We need to be like the five wise women and be prepared to run Jesus’ special race! You put on Jesus by following his commandments and what He tells you to do.