Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NLT
“The first time you quit, it’s hard. The second time, it gets easier. The third time, you don’t even have to think about it.”
Paul “the Bear” Bryant said the above. He accumulated 324 career wins at the University of Kentucky, Texas A & M, and the University of Alabama. His philosophy was, “Sacrifice. Work. Self-discipline. I teach these things, and my boys don’t forget them.”
Prior to the 1954 football season, Bryant took 111 Texas A & M players to Junction, Texas, for a ten-day football camp. After ten days, only thirty-five were left. The rest walked away because of the rigorous schedule and the desert conditions. But those who survived went on to great success both on and off the field.
The writer of Hebrews reminds believers we are in a competition to win also. But ours is between good and evil. As representatives of Christ, we are assigned the responsibility of disseminating His love across the globe. Winning at that involves intentionality.
To win we must train, which requires dedication and hard work. Those who occasionally win without training can chalk it up to good luck. Most winning requires rigorous training. For the believer, it entails stripping off weights that slow us down and putting away sins that trip us up. Weights come in variegated forms: busyness, misplaced priorities, unhealthy relationships, neglect of spiritual disciplines.
We also have to monitor our reaction to failure when things don’t turn out as planned—even though we think we’re following God’s plan. I can be a sour loser, or I can seek God’s direction, get up, and try again.
Experience is a great teacher. While it would have been nice to know as a young boy what I know now as an adult, I would have missed the experiences that furnished me that knowledge. Enjoying the journey is part of winning.
Believers are always winners in God’s eyes—whether or not we win at everything we put our hand to in life. How I handle setbacks speaks volumes about my character. In life, not everyone gets a trophy—as they might in sporting events where the children are small and just learning to play.
When you run the race of faith, you never lose—so don’t quit along the way. God’s power will carry you through every circumstance.
Tweetable: Are you quitting too soon?
Prayer: Father, give us strength and courage to run the race of faith so at the end we can hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”