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The secret to being a Christian champion

Friday 14 October 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Church Talk, Features

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The secret to being a Christian champion
A Mangaia athlete heads towards the finish line at the Cook Islands Games 2022. 22100301

In life you only get to run once, so run to win. To avoid stumbling and losing your place in the race, don’t look back. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it, writes Pastor Eric Toleafoa from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“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. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT)

Over the past week or so, I had the opportunity to catch-up with a few of our medal winners at this year’s Cook Island Games. In our discussions, they talked about their journey, challenges and successes. When asked what the secret to their success was. Here’s what they had to say…

  • You have got to work hard
  • Practice, and more practice
  • You have to make some sacrifices
  • You have got to be committed
  • Be the best in your sport
  • Be positive
  • Look after yourself by being fit and healthy
  • Have faith and believing in yourself
  • Never give up
  • Most importantly, have fun and do your best to finish the race.

For me, these athletes didn’t become champions when they received their medals, they were already champions. They had done all the hard work prior to the event. Everything they did in preparation for the games and their individual sport gave them the edge they needed. This is how champions are made.

Unfortunately, at these events there can only be one winner, one champion. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (NIV). In the Christian race we are all winners. God has given each of us everything we need to be able to run the race of life successfully.

In Hebrews 12:1-2, the author suggests three essentials for you to consider if you want to run the Christian race successfully, guaranteeing a place on the podium every time.

The first important thing in running the race successfully, is to, “…strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up”.

What is slowing you down and therefore hindering your progress. It might be a number of things including your finances, the choices you make, an attitude issue, your possessions, and even your relationship with others. Many of us carry the weight and worry of burdens every day. Whatever it is, that is hindering you from serving the Lord, you ought to let it go.

In life you only get to run once, so run to win. To avoid stumbling and losing your place in the race, don’t look back. You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it.

Don’t be anxious about the next lap, just focus on the next step. If you miss that, you may fall and not get up again.

When the blind man Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was within reach, he threw off his coat so it wouldn’t trip him up and ran toward Him. And his faith paid off: “Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus” (Mark 10:52 NKJV). You’ll never know how successful you can be until you get rid of the things that slow you down and eventually trip you up.

Secondly, the Bible describes our journey of life like a race…verse 1b says, “…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

How often do you spend time in God’s Word? You see the instructions on how to navigate your way through life successfully is found in the word of God. The challenge for each of us is to regularly spend time in God’s word, so that you may discover for yourself, God’s will, and purpose for your life.

Though life can be full of challenges, we are encouraged to run this race with endurance. In other words, don’t give up too easily on your faith. Too many Christians have given up. They forget the race is a marathon, and not a sprint.

You need to run the race with determination to win. Even when there are potholes the idea is not to stay there but to get yourself out of that situation and then keep moving forward towards the prize. Paul says in Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

The third component, to being the kind of champion God intended for you to be, is found in Hebrews 12:2 Paul says… “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” The question is where is your focus? And are your eyes set on Jesus “…the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honour beside God’s throne.” (NLT)

When you put him first and foremost, in everything that you do, you will not only receive the blessings he has for you, but you will also become a blessing to everyone around you.

The secret to being a Christian champion is, firstly, letting go of everything that hinders your journey, secondly, run the race with endurance. Remember the race you are on is a marathon and not a sprint, and lastly, is to keep your eyes on the prize and live life as a child of God.

In God’s hall of fame, according to Hebrews 12:1a are names of, “…a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…” (names found in Heb 11). These are men and women just like you and I who have been on this journey … they also had to discover the secret to being a Christian champion. And, so if they ran and were able to finish the race with God’s help, you can rest assure, as you run the race of life faithfully, that God will have your back too!

Enjoy the journey, stay blessed, but most of all be encouraged!