The Bible frequently likens the Christian life to a race. The Christian is a runner in a test, not of speed, but of endurance or perseverance. It’s a helpful metaphor for understanding the life we’re called to live in Christ.
Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Caneday’s The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance offers a good examination of perseverance and the race metaphor used in the Bible. The opening paragraph of chapter one succinctly outlines the race:
“God calls us to this race.”
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14).
“We train for this race.”
Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Tim. 4:7-8).
“Our training entails strict self-control.”
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (1 Cor. 9:25).
“Anyone who runs this race must compete according to the rules.”
An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules (2 Tim. 2:5).
“There is a prize to be won.”
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it (1 Cor. 9:24).
“Anyone who seeks to win the prize must run with singular devotion, with one’s eyes set on the prize who is Jesus Christ.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 12:1-2).
How’s the race coming? Keep running until you receive the prize!