By Ron Bartanen
In recent years there has been a shocking number of sports-figures that have achieved great and enviable success in their field, but have unfortunately sought to enhance their performance through the use of steroids, thus violating the rules of the game. These have brought upon themselves disgrace and disqualification. An example would be a runner that would cross the finish line before his competitors, but, nevertheless, would not receive an award when the judges are informed that he did not abide by the rules.
It is even more sad that many seek to run the Christian race while ignoring the rules. The apostle Paul illustrated this when he wrote, “If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (2 Timothy 2:5). King Solomon warned, “There shall be no reward to the evil man: the candle of the wicked shall be put out.” Jesus warned those who paraded their religion to be seen by men, that they already had their reward—the praise of men—and needed to expect none from the Father (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
One may even be ever so religious, moral and devoted to some church all his days, and yet miss the crown of glory awarded the faithful. To those who were straying from apostolic teachings and embracing a pseudo-spirituality, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let no man beguile you of your reward” (Colossians 2:18a). As Paul neared the end of his time of service in this world he wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Have you begun the Christian race? The runners in this race must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). We look to Jesus, for there is no other in whom there is eternal life. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). To begin this race, He is to be received in faith—a faith expressed in repentance and baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4).
Having begun the race, run it in accord with His word, for He declared, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Are you running the race in accordance with His word? He is the one that will judge us at the end of the race, and, sadly, some will have been disqualified.
- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://arthurcoc.com/