Nearly 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are gathering in Rio for 17 days of competition at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.
Medals will be given out in 306 events, including swimming, volleyball, and for the first time in 112 years – golf. However, the primary focus of these games will be on the track. The Jamaican Sprinter, Usain Bolt, will attempt to defend his Olympic Gold Medal in the 100-meter race, and try to hold on to his title of “world’s fastest man.”
Paul uses the analogy of an athletic race as a metaphor for life in 2nd Timothy 4:7-8.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
These verses from are often read at funerals to commemorate the life achievements of the recently departed.
As effective as these verses from Paul are at reflecting the end of life, they do little to describe the elements needed to run a successful life race.
In 2nd Timothy 4:2-4, Paul gives his apprentice Timothy instructions for running a successful race. A careful reading helps us to apply these God-given instructions to our lives.
Let’s examine Paul’s charge for running a successful life race:
- Preach the word
- Be prepared in season and out of season
- Correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction
- Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and discharge all the duties of your ministry.
God calls all of us to His service in this race of life. One does not have to be a preacher, or be ordained, or even be taking a Greek Class in seminary to be a minister in the service of Christ Jesus.
In this race – God calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves
In this race – God calls us to forgive others as we ask for forgiveness
In this race – God calls us to make disciples of all people.
Therefore, enjoy the pageantry of the opening ceremonies, the spirit of competition, and the awarding of the medals to the successful runners of the race.
However, let us not forget to run a successful race as ministers for the Lord, to the people of God. Then, one day it will be said about us and our ministry, “we fought the good fight, we finished the race, and we kept the faith.”