Twelve years ago, I was a young and zealous Christian. I believed every one of Jesus’ promises, including the promise that His return was to happen soon! I wanted every single person I came across to know: my family, friends, professors, classmates, and even the strangers I met on my daily commute. I was convicted and wanted everyone to know that His return would mark the end of injustice, suffering, and death: commencing an era of peace, joy, and security that would last forever. I needed everyone to know!
I look back and remember how bold I was for this cause. I frequented prisons, hospitals, and homeless shelters with the message of hope and healing. I was always busy serving at church and in my community. As time passed, the passion has calmed. My fire has cooled off considerably. Yet where I think I’ve faltered, God is faithfully guiding me to where He needs me to be. While I’m focused on external actions, God is concerned with the condition of my heart.
Keep the Focus on Jesus
As I reflect on some of the ‘good’ things I once did, God has allowed me to realize much of it was a source of spiritual pride for me. I subconsciously believed that more activity would make me more deserving of God’s favor and it showed in the way I thought about others who didn’t live the same. It’s always good to serve others and build up the kingdom of God, but we should be careful to not let our good deeds give us an inflated sense of our own spiritual condition. I appreciate the insight Paul provides regarding our life of faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…Hebrews 12:1-2
First, he equates the life of of faith to a race. I’d dare to add that this ‘race’ is more of a marathon than a sprint. We’re in it for the long haul! As marathons require incredible stamina to finish, we acquire the strength to live faithfully by keeping our focus on Jesus. So I’ve never ran a marathon myself, but I hear they are very difficult and can be dangerous too. Just this summer, I read a report about an ‘ultra’ marathon that resulted in the tragic deaths of 21 people.
We acquire the strength to live faithfully by keeping focus on Jesus
Our life of faith is not easy. There will be times we will want to quit. There will be times where we will mess up. There will be times we won’t feel as if we are good enough or strong enough and that is okay because we aren’t. That’s precisely why we must always keep the focus on Jesus. Don’t stop moving. Keep getting back up. He will give us all the strength we need to faithfully finish our race. He promised.
Make Time for the Things That Matter
Paul also advises us to let go of the things that are slowing us down. There are so many things in the world today to distract us. How do we make sure that we are investing our time in the things that really matter? Time is a treasure: it is never to be wasted. How many times have you said to yourself, “I just don’t have the time?” I say it a lot too! But may God help us to always have time for the things that matter. If we are not careful, we can squander away years on things that do not matter and even worse; things that are actively working to disrupt our life of faith.
If we are not careful, we can squander away years on things that don’t matter
As a business owner, I’ve started implementing a cash management strategy that sets asides profits before allocating funds for business expenses. It is contrary to the age-old process where profit is what is left over after all expenses are taken care of. The idea here is that the profits of the business are prioritized first and all other expenses are limited to what remains.
God has recently led me to apply this same principle to my daily life. What is most important to you? For me, it’s God, family and service. So, I’m prioritizing time for God, time for family and time for service first. That list may look a bit different for you, but the principle is the same nonetheless. If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. I’m also being intentional with my priorities. It’s on all of my calendars (work too) and I’m communicating my plans with my wife so she knows and can help me to be accountable. By doing this, I’ve found myself being much more careful with the time that remains so other important tasks are not neglected. Are you concerned that everything won’t get done? GOOD NEWS: Jesus promised that he’ll take care of all of the other stuff if we commit to putting Him first.
GOOD NEWS: Put Jesus first and He’ll take care of everything else
God knows our hearts. He wants to see you win and has provided all the resources you need to do so. My prayer is for you to trust our always faithful God to finish the good work He has begun in you. We’d love to hear from you. Send us a message or let us know in the comments how your marathon is going. Maranatha!