As a teenager and young adult I loved running - for competition and for fun. It was a daily thing for me; if at home I would hit the footpath and run to the track or run to school and on the weekends just for fun, I'd run to the track, compete all day and then run home. On holidays, there was nothing better than running along the beach, sometimes with one of the kids but mostly by myself. And as the kids get older they took up running too. I would stand on the bend at the 300 metre point and as my daughter came past i'd call out to her 'Don't give up, pump that arm, run for the prize'. Sometimes she would physically hear me, but most times she would see me and just know what I was saying. On her starting blocks I had written in permanent marker - "when you hit the wall, don't give up, push through." She saw it each time she crouched for the start.
In our reading today, Paul reminds the reader, of a number of things that we need to remember as we run this race of life and faith. Don't give up, don't wear a mask or play games, don't manoeuvre or manipulate, don't twist God's word. And on the positive side, he encourages the reader to live transparent lives with the truth on display (vs 1-2) 'Do's and don'ts' are often frowned upon. Our contemporary world values individuality over the group and ultimately, people are encouraged to do what they want. But Paul's wise 'don'ts' are timely and practical and full of integrity. Behind these 'don'ts' is the desire and hope to let the wonderful message about Jesus Christ without any hindrance, or distraction, embellishment or deceitfulness; we are urged to let the message of the gospel sound loud and unhindered.(vs 5)
There is a sobering tone in the reading as well; its the reminder that some have hardened there hearts to the message of Jesus Christ and ultimately refuse to give serious attention to the claims of Jesus the King. (vs 3) As you reflect on the reading today, can you see times in the past when you have been tempted to give up on the things that you know are from God? Think about what is going on right now, today, in your relationship with Jesus the King. What doors is he opening, and who are the people he is bringing into your life that you might genuinely and truthfully share the truth of Jesus with?