I have a growing appreciation of the apostle Paul: He set a goal and went all-out to achieve it.

Our Wednesday morning men’s group has been going through the Book of Acts for some months.  It’s helped us get to know Paul better – his undying commitment to Christ and his willingness to risk his life just to tell others about how wonderful Jesus is.

Our group agrees that, as a person, Paul must have been a bit intimidating.  He was somewhat “in-your-face”.

But flocks of people became believers because of his passion for the Lord.  And those close to him gave up everything to accompany him on his travels.

He loved Jesus with all his heart and his letters drip with love for those who gave their lives to Christ.

In his second letter to his young helper Timothy, Paul writes: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7)

He could say that truthfully – not everyone can.

What race was Paul running?  He was running to please Jesus and ultimately to receive his reward in heaven.

But he knew he would not succeed in running that race without self-discipline as he says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  We are to “run to win”, Paul says, and then he adds:

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

He goes on to say that he runs “with purpose in every step”, disciplining himself as he goes.

This may seem discouraging for us as believers.  How could anyone be so single-minded?

Like most people, I am easily distracted by things going on around me and the many technical toys available to me.  So, how should I get on the right track?  How can I run the race that Christ has set before me?

I need to remember that the process of becoming like Christ doesn’t happen overnight.  The apostles Peter and Paul talk about growing in Christ – it’s a step-by-step process as we rely more and more on the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

But I do need to constantly keep the goal of pleasing Jesus and becoming more like him in view.  If I am not aiming for this goal, I will stumble.

A conference speaker I heard a couple of years ago said something helpful.  He advised against trying wholesale change all at once.  Instead, he suggested establishing one goal and working toward that until it is a habit and a natural part of my life before moving on to something else.

I need to remember that I am helpless without Jesus.  I can’t do it on my own.

But with him, I can run with purpose – just like Paul.


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