Context is everything.
At the end of a race they give you the order of the competitors. The one mentioned at the start is the winner then you work your way down to the last competitor. So if the competitor comes near the top they have done well and if they come near the bottom they have not done so well. Or so we believe.
Context determines perspective. Someone who never thought they could ever compete will be delighted at just being on the list however low down they are. The driven competitor always looking to excel may well be dissatisfied with a performance despite coming first. One person’s achievement might be another person’s disappointment.
Sometimes living as someone who follows Jesus is related to a race – more a marathon than a sprint. Encouragement is given to endure and stay in the race. Suggestions are offered on how to make progress in the race. Insights are shared on how you know you’re progressing in the race.
The best thing about this Christian race, though, is that we run a race that’s already been run and won. Our very capacity to run is dependent on the One who has run and won. As a result, complete reliance on Him means that even when we slip, trip, fall, get bruised, suffer serious injury and mishap returning to Him who has run and won means we need never be disqualified.
Indeed progress for one runner can be completely different to progress for another, yet both can still take heart and celebrate those achievements. Likewise those achievements are not at the expense of other runners, indeed it’s for their benefit as they run the race. Sure, the idea is to win, but that idea is not about beating others, but attaining the prize ahead.
It is worth from time to time checking how we are in the race. It’s definitely not worth feeling complacent – for that is the path that leads to losing the race
At the same time the race is run by grace, so there’s no need for harsh critical analysis and condemnation. It’s good to know we have one who has run and won before us. Keeping our eyes focused on his example will help us realise and rejoice in the same result.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden