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Meditations by John Dean

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Run to Win


(1Corinthians 9:24 KJV) Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 

In my early Christian life I did not understand the true meaning of this verse.
I was apparently confused because I was under the impression that a
Christian was supposed to defer to his fellow man in all things. After all,
Matthew 5:41 in the ASV says, “And whosoever shall compel thee to go
one mile, go with him two.” I did everything I could to fulfill this verse
according to my understanding.

I thought for one not to be generous in this regard was revealing of his selfish
heart and soulish nature and I did not want to be like that. On the other hand,
I thought that by deferring to one’s fellow man in all things, this was a sure
sign of holiness…and I did want to be like that!

Looking back, I am not sure where I got such a ridiculous understanding of these very freeing scriptures…probably out of my own imagination.

There is nothing wrong with deferring to one’s fellow man, as long as it is kept in the context of the Scripture. In my case I was aiming for holiness, but I was hitting self-righteousness.

Everyone should try to be righteous in character but it helps to understand what that really means.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” In other words, if you do not intend to win the race, then you should never enter the race.

I am still somewhat embarrassed by the story that I am about to tell, but perhaps by telling it someone else may be set free.

When I was a young teenager I was on the tract team of our little country school. I loved to run as most country boys do, and I was reasonably fast.

One day the coach loaded all of the track team boys into our old raggedy worn out yellow school bus and headed for a track meet at a nearby school. Soon after we arrived, my team was on the field ready to win the relay race with the fastest country boys around. My role was to pass the baton off to the boy who would bring it in and win the race.

We started the race and when I got the baton I was running ahead of my opponent but I looked back to see where he was and saw that he was struggling to run. Without even thinking my compassion got the best of me and I instinctively slowed down and moved over so he could pass. By the time I realized what I had done it was too late and we lost the race.

As a result of being distracted for one split second by getting my eyes off the goal I caused my entire team to suffer defeat. Compassion is certainly an admirable quality but in my case the prize was not worth the price. My team had to pay the full price for my misplaced compassion.
I learned a lesson that day that has served me well for all the years. I learned that every decision one makes either has a direct or indirect effect on others. No one is an island unto themselves.

Father,
Help us to enter and win the races that count in this life. We desire to defer to our fellow man, but not at the cost of others having to pay our price. We want to be balanced in our thinking and generosity.
Amen

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