The Review and Herald


October 18, 1881

The Christian Race


“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1. RH October 18, 1881, par. 1

In this text one of the public games so famous in Paul's time is used to illustrate the Christian race. The competitors in the race submitted to a painful training process, practicing the most rigid self-denial that their physical powers might be in the most favorable condition, and then they taxed these powers to the utmost to win the honor of a perishable wreath. Some never recovered from the effects. In consequence of the terrible strain, men would sometimes fall by the race-course, bleeding at the mouth and nose; others breathed out their life, firmly grasping the poor bauble that had cost them so dear. RH October 18, 1881, par. 2

Paul compares the followers of Christ to the competitors in a race. “Now,” says the apostle, “they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we [mark the greater inducement] an incorruptible.” Here Paul makes a sharp contrast, to put to shame the feeble efforts of professed Christians who plead for their selfish indulgences, and refuse to place themselves, by self-denial and strictly temperate habits, in a position that they will make a success of overcoming. All who entered the list in the public games were animated and excited by the hope of a prize if they were successful. In like manner a prize is held out before the Christian, the reward of faithfulness to the end of the race. If the prize is won, his future welfare is assured; an exceeding and eternal weight of glory is in reserve for the overcomer. Shall, then, the followers of Christ, with the attractions of the heavenly world before them, grudge the self-denial and spare the effort, needful to secure the imperishable crown? RH October 18, 1881, par. 3

“They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we, an incorruptible.” In the races, the crown of honor was placed in sight of the competitors, that if any were tempted for a moment to relax their efforts, the eye would rest on the prize, and they would be inspired with new vigor. So the heavenly goal is presented to the view of the Christian, that it may have its just influence, and inspire him with zeal and ardor. We may safely and earnestly look to this recompense of reward, that we may assure ourselves of its excellence, and have an ardent desire to secure its possession. RH October 18, 1881, par. 4

All ran in the race, but only one received the prize. The other strugglers for the perishable laurel wreath, however thorough their preparation, however earnest and determined their efforts, were doomed to failure. It is not so with the Christian race. None who are earnest and persevering will fail of success. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. The weakest saint as well as the strongest may obtain the crown of immortal glory, if he is thoroughly in earnest, and will submit to privation and loss for Christ's sake. The apostle calls our attention to the care and diligence which were required to secure the victory in these ancient games. He exhorts all who start in the Christian race to give all diligence to make success certain, while he presents before them for their encouragement the crown of glory which the righteous Judge will award to all who are faithful to the end of the race. He says, “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” RH October 18, 1881, par. 5

Paul addresses the Hebrews in a similar style: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” RH October 18, 1881, par. 6

Here we are cited to the example of the multitude of faithful witnesses who would not sacrifice their faith and principle for the sake of enjoying ease and self-gratification, but who gave up all, not withholding their lives, for the truth of God. Their example should quicken our zeal and increase our faith. But Jesus is our perfect pattern; and when we look to him who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, we should be aroused to greater earnestness. He has led the way to the heavenly reward in glory. He passed through fiercer conflicts than man will ever be able to endure. RH October 18, 1881, par. 7

“If a man strive for the mastery, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully.” A man may make earnest efforts to overcome, while he is not in possession of the physical, mental, and moral power which he might possess were he brought into harmony with the laws which govern his being. If through selfish indulgence he is an intemperate man, every organ in his body becomes enfeebled, and he is robbed of mental and moral power. He is not striving lawfully. He is not laying aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets. Every law governing the human system is to be strictly regarded; for it is as truly a law of God as is the word of Holy Writ; and every willful deviation from obedience to this law is as certainly sin as a violation of the moral law. All nature expresses the law of God, but in our physical structure Jehovah has written his law with his own finger upon every thrilling nerve, upon every living fiber, and upon every organ of the body. We shall suffer loss and defeat, if we step out of nature's path, which God himself has marked out, into one of our own devising. RH October 18, 1881, par. 8

We must strive lawfully, if we would win the boon of eternal life. The path is wide enough, and all who run the race may win the prize. If we create unnatural appetites, and indulge them in any degree, we violate nature's laws, and enfeebled physical, mental, and moral conditions will result. We are hence unfitted for that persevering, energetic, and hopeful effort which we might have made had we been true to nature's laws. If we injure a single organ of the body, we rob God of the service we might render to him. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” RH October 18, 1881, par. 9

The apostle Paul compares himself to a man running in the ancient race-course, and straining every nerve and muscle to win the prize. He did not consider his work ended while he could labor in the cause of God. He never felt that he had graduated in the school of Christ, but he ever realized the necessity of strictly guarding his appetites and passions, lest they should so strengthen themselves as to overcome spiritual zeal. He strove with all his powers against natural inclinations which called for unlawful indulgence. His own testimony was, “I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” It was only when he was on trial for his life, which depended on a word or a nod from the tyrant Nero, and he was aware that his end was nigh, that he broke forth in the lofty, elevated strains of triumphant assurance: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept my faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.” This crown is not a perishable chaplet of flowers, but the glorious crown of everlasting life, which awaits all who, having completed the Christian race, love the appearing of our Lord. RH October 18, 1881, par. 10