Christianity has often been referred to as a marathon. Compared to sprints, marathons are longer and require that you pace yourself so that you have enough endurance and stamina to last throughout the whole race. If you plan on being a Christian until you die, you most certainly have to pace yourself for the next 30, 40, or 50 years! In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to make sure that he was not running his race in vain (Galatians 2:2). How do you know you’re running in vain? We can learn a few lessons from our ancestors:
“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2
The only way to not run in vain is to turn away from your evil ways despite everything you’ve already done. As Samuel said to Saul, “Do not be afraid…You have done all this evil yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).
Saul Didn’t Want to Wait (1 Samuel 13:1-15)
Samuel instructed Saul to wait for him. Saul waited seven days but when Samuel didn’t come “on time,” Saul jumped the gun and did what he wanted. Even after God took the kingdom away from Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul was given a second chance to repent when he was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites, but instead of following every instruction to the tee, Saul did what he felt best. He even justified his actions and was thoroughly convinced that he was obeying God (1 Samuel 15:19-23).
It is totally possible to believe you are obeying God with all your heart yet still not be right with God. Scary, right?? We are living in the New Testament times and Jesus’s blood has cleansed us of our sins if we put faith in His sacrifice. The scriptures also say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is nothing we can do to earn salvation but Jesus’s expectation of our obedience is just the same as it was for the Israelites, our forefathers of the faith, in the Old Testament.
The Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land did not combine the message with faith. Today, you can look at the Bible and think that it’s a bunch of fairy tales written by man, or you can put faith in the scriptures and believe it to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), thereby backing up your faith with action (obedience).
What Lack of Faith Can Do
- You can amaze Jesus with your lack of faith (Mark 6:6)
- You can be your own miracle-stopper (Matthew 13:58)
- You can make it impossible for yourself to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
- Lack of faith gives way to fear (Mark 4:40; Matthew 8:26)
Warning against Drifting Away
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3
No one is perfect. Nobody’s going to run this race without injuries, pain or obstacles. However, we have plenty of examples in the Bible that teach us so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes. As long as we cling to Christ and allow the Word to cut our hearts, put our sins behind us and press forward to drawing closer to God, everything will be all right. The biggest clue that will tip you off is when you want to manipulate the scriptures to justify personal gain instead of wholeheartedly obeying God with no ulterior motive. If you obey God from a sincere heart, you then are not running this race in vain.
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