Let’s face it. We all like to win a race, even if it’s first in line at the grocery store. But Jesus has something important to say about trying to be first.
Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair
The Best Race
I’m not athletically inclined so never entered a foot race. I found early on that one of my best competitions was with words. Competition of any kind can be good for a person’s self-esteem. Our world is surrounded by competitions. Winning a race or a ballgame, sporting the biggest or newest car, or showing off the best lawn or garden are great ego-builders. Winning an election can be, too.
Let’s face it, we all feel on top of the world when we win a race. I won spelling bees, grammar contests and any game that involved words. Competing at county fairs, I won blue ribbons for my garden produce, sewing and quilting items. I was proud of every accomplishment. I worked hard to win those prizes. Later in life, my ego came crashing and I felt humbled after watching a Special Olympics race on TV where one contestant stopped to help someone who had fallen, at the expense of a win. In the end, all the racers won a prize.
Jesus gave a strong lesson about competition that throws water on society’s take on it. Although not addressing the subject of a race, He may as well have done so. He said we shouldn’t try to find the best place to sit during a wedding feast, but should seek out the lowliest place. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted,” He told His listeners. We shouldn’t try to be first or best, either.
But aren’t we supposed to be winning a spiritual race? Paul writes, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) But Paul also says we should discipline ourselves so we won’t be disqualified. The prize we should go after is our reward for enduring and even suffering for the cause of Christ. It’s meant for all of us.
Only one can sit in the most important seat at a wedding feast. But we all can sit with Jesus at His “wedding banquet” when He comes a second time to receive us, His bride. And as we continue daily to stay spiritually fit through Bible reading and study, prayer and meditation, we don’t have to be concerned about competing.
Lord, thank You for equipping us with Your strength, power and endurance to run the race toward eternal life with You. Keep us from trying to be first at the expense of others, from stumbling and from the pride of self-accomplishment. In Jesus’ name, amen.