Our spiritual walk is compared in several passages to the training and performance of an athlete.
I may never have been on a competitive sports team, but I understand the discipline; for in my teens, I used to distance run just for the pleasure of it.
Aside from setting a maintainable pace and good breathing, one of the most important things I learned is that the runner must keep his or her eyes forward, or risk tripping and falling.
I’d learned that lesson as a preschooler, the first (and last) time I ever ran from Granny. I was in trouble and trying to get away from her; while looking back to see if she was gaining on me, I tripped over a tree stump. She was on me with that willow tree switch in an instant, “like white on rice!”
We will not grow spiritually if we are constantly looking backwards.
In a similar comparison, Jesus said that a man who sets his hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for service in the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Why?
Because a farmer who doesn’t keep his eyes forward can’t possibly plow a straight furrow; a runner can’t possibly aim for the finish line if he’s glancing over his shoulder, and a Christian who constantly looks back will be all over the place, instead of in line with the Word and God’s will.
Ever hear a believer who reminisces just a little too fondly about the lifestyle lived before he or she accepted Christ?
Sadly, sometimes we encounter folks who spend more time wistfully remembering what they left behind, rather than rejoicing that they traded something worth nothing in return for Heaven’s bounty.
For those whose focus is honed in on what’s behind, our Lord offers a brief but effective warning: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (Luke 17:32)
I don’t want crooked garden rows, I don’t want to veer off course on the racetrack.and I sure don’t want to turn into a pillar salt, do you?!
Likewise, if we’re always gauging acceptable behavior by our peers instead of by the Word, we’re not going to walk the straight and narrow; we could even deceive ourselves.
We can’t afford to mimic the life choices of unbelievers for certain; but there’s also danger in sizing ourselves up against fellow believers.
There’s a certain celebrity my husband and I occasionally watch on television. He’s a born-again believer, and very vocal about his faith, but his actions and words would indicate that he’s not a mature Christian. I like him immensely, and I believe he will grow in grace as he remains committed; but I can’t make him my role model. If I were to suddenly acquire his vocabulary and habits instead of lining my speech and lifestyle with God’s Word, I would start running a crooked race.
Neither could this man gauge his life by mine, for I might struggle in areas he’s already conquered and throw him off course! We can’t even run this race with our eyes on the preacher!
It’s got to be Jesus alone in our sights!
Fix your eyes forward today and run like the One Who ran this race with utter perfection.
You can finish victoriously. He’s given His solemn Word on it!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
–by Lisa Crum