Last Saturday Norma Jean and I attended a cross country meet in Gainesville, Florida, to see the Florida College team coached by our son, Kenny.
There were hundreds of runners participating in several different events. Boys and girls. Large universities and small colleges. And High School athletes.
Cross Country is different from other sports. While you run on a team you’re participating as an individual. The team with the lowest score wins. A runner may take first place in a race, but his team finish last.
Both the men’s and the women’s meet had over 200 participants. And regardless of the age, gender, talent or experience all of these runners were pursuing something of value to them. Top tier runners were vying for first place. Others were striving to place in the top 10 or 20. And still others were simply pursuing a goal to set a record for their best personal time.
Those runners seriously pursing their goal would look their watches at splits to see their time. It’s a way to check up on yourself to see if you’re on target, need to run faster, or maybe even running a bit too fast. Everyone pursuing a goal wants to measure their progress.
The analogy of running a physical race to the Christian life is often used in the Bible. Paul commanded the Corinthian Christians to discipline themselves and run with purpose the spiritual race in order to win the prize.(1 Cor. 9:24-27).
Our word of the week, pursue, is a Bible word that has to do with running the Christian race. The word means “run swiftly in order to catch some person or thing; to run after; to follow after; to pursue as one would a calling.
Like the athlete, the Christian runner must pursue the goal with diligence, endurance and focus. And he needs to measure himself along the way to see how he’s doing. Here are some things we need to pursue to stay on course.
(1) Pursue knowledge.
A lot of people are pursuing knowledge. But it’s not helpful in the Christian race. Because it’s the wrong kind of knowledge. The prophet Hosea wrote, “Let us pursue the knowledge of God” (Hos 6:3). We need knowledge of His love, grace and mercy. We need more of His Word for our lives.
The wise man was right when he wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7).
(2) Pursue peace.
In a world of discord, disagreement and disharmony, the Christian should be running after peace. We are to seek peace. Work for peace. Be a peacemaker. The Bible commands “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Rom. 14:19)
(3) Pursue Love.
This simple two word command found in I Corinthians 14:1 is pregnant with meaning and application. Paul wrote that love was more important than miraculous gifts. Love is the badge of discipleship that identified Jesus’ followers.
Love is treating others better than they treat you. Love is kind. Courteous. And congenial. Love is patient. Persistent. And unprovoked. Love is not irritable. Resentful. Or unrighteous. Love is enduring. Self-effacing. And eternal.
(4) Pursue Good.
Christians who are really pursuing God, are always pursing good. Godliness and goodness just naturally go together. And don’t we have an innate sense of what it means to be good? And to do good? The Bible says,” See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. (1 Thess. 5:15)
What disciplines are you developing? What goal are you pursuing? What reward are you running after?
To cross God’s finish line and receive the crown of life, you must “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness…and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (1 Tim. 6:11; Heb. 12:14).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman