The Backward Race
It is an interesting thing to see when you watch a foot race and the person who comes across the finish line first lifts their hands in victory. They are basically saying “I am the winner!!” And, of course, they are the winner. That is how it works in our WORLD. Our WORLD! Scripture even teaches that no one goes into a race to lose it, but to finish that scripture brings out the true teaching point of the whole thing. 1 Corinthians 9:25 says, ” Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” Competition is a huge thing in our lives and we salt it with just enough humility to keep it from becoming a god to us. But it still has it’s effect. When was the last time you competed in something and when you lost, you really were happy for the person who won? You probably will have a hard time finding a time when you “really” felt that for LOSING. You see, it’s not the other person winning that bothers us, but it is the losing. Or is it? To be a loser is a disastrous thing for most people and we don’t like to be the loser do we? Loser (def). a person who accepts defeat with good or bad grace. I don’t want to be a loser and my ego is fed again and again by self made victories in all areas of my life. Is this good?
Let’s see what God’s word says about it. In Matthew 19:27-30 the disciples have come to Jesus and tell him they have given up everything to follow Him. 27 Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” Jesus brings a future perspective into their thinking in verse 28 where He says, “28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. He is telling them about their rule throughout eternity and giving them the promise of promises for their service to the Lord. Of course, we realize these guys were humbled by just following Jesus here on earth. Jesus would send them out with basically the clothes on their backs, (and not very good clothes) and tell them to tell the story in the face of ridicule and doubt, and, by the way, forget the career successes they were wanting. Their reward is later….. Peter in verse 27 was just saying what we would probably say after a while of barely living an existence at all. Their lifestyle and choices to follow Jesus probably had family and friends wondering where their brains were when they made the decision to follow Jesus. They were probably not considered heroes or “victors” as they walked the dusty roads sharing the message of Christ. But they were….. In verse 29 Jesus promised that those who follow Him in such a way would have this happen..29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. At the time they couldn’t see the victory of following Jesus, but He told them they would see it in the eternal future and the soon to be future. They would have their reward!! We will have. our reward!!
It is sometimes hard to understand the victory of following Jesus when you are the poor guy at the table. It is very humiliating to be the one who cannot do what others do financially because you are not serving Christ for the money. You are totally dependent on the Lord for your supply and that supply many times makes a person look like a loser, but we aren’t!! The same promise applies to each of us who are willing to give our lives for the cause of Christ. The cause is the biggest reward, but in the midst of all of that there is “living.” Sometimes it feels like it is a “backward race” and that the more you go forward, the further back you actually go. But look at verse 30 of the same text.
30 But many who are first will be last; and the last, first. The field has been flipped by Jesus for all of us and the perspective we have is different than the true perspective from God. Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last. The race in the life of a disciple is much different than we think with our worldly reasoning. The disciples wanted some kind of reward for giving up everything to follow Jesus and He assured them of not only a heavenly reward, but an earthly one as well.
It all comes down to where our heart is. Are you serving Jesus for what you can get from Him. Or are you serving Him because you love Him? If you are doing the latter then you are never a loser, now, and throughout eternity. If you are serving Him and trying to win on the world’s standard you will always feel slighted and like a loser. But if you are serving Him out of an intense love for Him that causes you to leave EVERYTHING to follow Him. You will be a true winner in God’s eyes and what else really matters. NOTHING!!
When I finish my race and cross the finish line I will be lifting my hands in victory, but in that victory position those hands will be lifted to praise God forever. I guess is all comes down to our perspective. What may seem like going backwards to the world is really going upwards to God. I am on that path and even though it gets a little lean from time to time, I’m staying the course.
Paul helped Timothy understand this very thing in 1 Timothy 6:17-18 where He wrote 17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. Earthly riches may seem like being a winner now, but in eternity we will see a much different standard. Stay the course. Finish the race. It may seem like you are losing, but in God’s reality you have already won. So going backwards in God’s reality is actually moving forward….TO VICTORY!!
The Pilgrimage continues…..