One race doesn’t have a finish line. The other does. One race goes in circles. The other has a goal. One race leads to perpetual frustration. The other leads to peaceful contentment. One race will never satisfy. The other gives everlasting satisfaction. Which one would you prefer?
It doesn’t seem like that hard of a choice, but many people prefer the rat race over God’s race. A rat race is defined as a way of life in which people are caught up in a fiercely competitive struggle for wealth or power. It involves an exhausting routine that seeks earthly prosperity. For those running the rat race, there is never enough wealth or power or recognition or pleasure to satisfy. So they run in circles pursuing more and more, often wondering why it’s never enough. People running the rat race can be very successful and wealthy, but feel so unfulfilled. They can grab the attention of many people, but grow apart from the people closest to them. They can zoom down the fast lanes of life trying to keep pace, but feel so worn out that they just want to give up.
Are you running that rat race or God’s race? It’s tempting to run in the rat race of life. In many aspects, the rat race is easier. It usually means more instant gratification and pleasure. It may mean having more expensive and comfortable things in this life. It may mean being more popular or having a more powerful position in society. But then what? Earthly successes can only go so far. They are often “self” focused. Then there’s the conundrum of failure. If a person fails in the rat race, then their purpose in life is called into question.
Jesus directs our attention to a higher and better purpose, a race that has an eternal goal. God’s Word recorded in Hebrews 12:1 encourages, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” The race God has marked out for us is a life of faith in Jesus. God wants “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4). That truth is that Jesus already ran the earthly race perfectly for everyone. He picked up all our sins against God’s commands and took them to the cross where he suffered God’s punishment of hell for them. He fulfilled God’s plan in saving everyone from the curse of sin – eternal damnation. God wants all people to have the confidence of the Apostle Paul: “I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will award to me” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Jesus has prepared a place for you in heaven. The finish line of this life is the starting line of eternal life for all who believe in him.
This truth puts all our earthly possessions and activities into the proper perspective. They are gifts of God that are to be used for our blessing and the blessing of others while we run God’s race of life. They are meant to focus our attention on the God who gives all good gifts, the greatest of which is eternal life. Jesus gives encouragements that help us keep focused while we run the race God has marked out for us: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). He wants you to focus on your spiritual life that really matters. And when that’s the case, you’ll be content to stay out of the rat race and enjoy all his gifts. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these (earthly) things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
So will it be the rat race or God’s race? And if it’s God’s race for you, then keep asking yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Does it glorify God? Does it help me to grow in faith? Is it a blessing to the faith of those around me? If the answer is “yes” then continue it wholeheartedly while you “press on toward the goal for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Serving you in Christ,
Pastor Peter Sulzle