Always practiced, never perfected
I am not a runner, however several friends of mine are runners, and one even runs competitively. She would tell you that running requires a great deal of training. A runner is never fully trained; they continually strive to be better, to run faster, to improve their time, to build their endurance. Running is an activity that is never perfected, but always practiced.
We read in Hebrews 12:1-2, “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.”
Active or passive?
In his Bible Expositions, MacLaren illustrates the Christian life by drawing parallels between the traveller and the runner. While the traveller goes through life at his leisure, the runner “must not look askance, must not be afraid of dust or sweat, must tax muscle and lungs to the utmost, if, panting, he is to reach the goal and win the prize…”. He goes on to say that the Christian life is “to be ‘run with patience’, by which great word the New Testament means, not merely passive endurance, noble and difficult as that may be, but active perseverance which presses on unmoved, ay, and unhindered, to its goal in the teeth of all opposition.” We all endure, but do we endure passively, or actively? Are we working out our faith? To run the race actively, we must continually look unto Jesus.
How do we look to Jesus, practically?
Perhaps the question arises in your mind, “How do I look to Jesus?” The Bible is the answer. “And the Word was made flesh…” (John 1:14). Christ is the Word, and the Word is God’s Word, the Holy Bible. To run with patience the race set before us – to get through this life and live it to the glory of God – requires us to look to Jesus. Practically speaking, this means reading His Word, hearing His Word, and living His Word.
This “looking unto” is not just applying to our lives the parts of His Word that we find convenient. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith; He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is all parts, even the parts that make us uncomfortable, that we’re afraid could cause trouble, and that we struggle to understand.
Continual advance in the Christian life
To understand as much as we can, we must always be absorbing Scripture. Reading God’s Word over and over again doesn’t ever become boring; each time we read God’s Word, we learn something new. He uses our time in Scripture to reveal truths to us that we hadn’t noticed before. This is how we grow. Continual advance in the Christian life requires our eyes to be continually in God’s Word. Every day. Running with patience can only be done when we stay in God’s Word.