Run From — Run To — Run For
Paul speaks clearly about the race we run. It’s a race that is run on a path of sanctification—a path that leads to growing in holiness in Christ (Ephesians 4:15) and being conformed to the image of the Jesus (Romans 8:29). Paul’s passion for sanctification is revealed when he speaks of running the race. He speaks not of walking, and certainly not of sauntering, strolling or striding. Nor does he mean we are to dawdle or wander….or trudge, traipse or tromp. Paul says we are to RUN…and to “run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1). Not “a” race, but “THE” race. This is “THE” important race—the race that God has set before us. Jesus is the One who saved us and He is the One who has entered us into this race. Now we are to run. This emphasizes an urgency in our race. We know that one day we will come to the finish line, but until then we “run.”
When we think of the word run, we often think of words such as dart and dash. We know that running is at a much faster speed than walking and we often describe running with words like, “run like lightening,” “run like the wind,” or we often say about the runners, “they’re flying.” So in this urgency to run the race, what direction are we told to run?
We are told to run from sin. We are told this because all sin puts us at a distance, separated, from a Holy and Just God. All sin is a snare that can create in us a stronghold and drag us more deeply into more sin, moving us even farther away. Sin will steal our joy and damage our witness and testimony for the Lord. When we remember that we have already been forgiven for our sins, it should be our great desire to run FROM sin.
Joseph is an example of one, who being tempted to sin, turned and ran (Genesis 39:12) and Peter speaks of us being a chosen generation (1 Peter 2:9) who are to turn from evil and do good (1 Peter 3:11). Paul clearly addresses the snare of specific sins in his letters. He tells God’s people to flee sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18), to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), flee from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10-11) and to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22) and, Paul commands, we are to pursue righteousness (1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22)
Sin is the place from where we run.
We are told to run to our Saviour. Our “running” to Jesus is our pursuit of righteousness. Jesus IS Righteousness, and it is our desire to be like Him and to be nearer to Him. When we run to Him, we find peace, comfort and rest.
The Old Testament tells us that “the righteous run” to the Lord and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). Isaiah tells us “…those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”(Isaiah 40:31) And Paul tells us we are to “abhor what is evil” and to “cling to and hold fast to that which is good” (Romans 12:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Jesus is the One to Whom we run.
We are told to run for the crown. Paul spoke of our sanctification race, as a run from sin, a run to Christ and finally a crossing of the finish line and a receiving of the prize.
He reminds us all, “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)…. “an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25). This reminds us that we each run our own race. We each have our own, very personal, relationship with Christ and He is working His will in our lives to make each of us into who He wants us to be. We are not to look to others and compare our race to theirs. We are to set our sight on Christ and reach “forward to those things which are ahead,” [and] press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
The entire race is about Jesus. We run from sin because Jesus paid for our sin (Romans 3:24). We run to Jesus because He is the only way to to move forward (John 14:6), and we run for the crown because Jesus waits for us at the finish line (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Jesus has given us everything we need, and in our sanctification “race” we are able to give our all. When we cross the finish line we desire to be known for having “fought the good fight …finished the race….and kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), and in that day we will receive the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to [us]…”(2 Timothy 4:8).
The Finish Line
Let us remember that though we each run our own personal race—away from sin, to the Saviour and for the crown—at the finish line there will also be a great gathering of those who have run the race before us.
Remember that they as we run they are “cheering us on” and eagerly waiting to welcome us home. That will encourage us to run swiftly and finish strong—to run with endurance, looking to Jesus.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance 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 has sat down at
the right hand of the throne of God.