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Rule #2 - It's not a competition

We should serve, love, and obey God simply because of who He is and for what He has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.
(John 21:21-22 NIV)
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.
(Psalms 1:3)

My first run was very discouraging because I was so much slower than everyone else. The next week's run was no different. I labored through the four miles while no one else seemed to break a sweat. So I went back to the training manual to see what I was doing wrong. The manual repeatedly stressed that you should not compare your progress to that of anyone else, since it was not a race. Not a race?!? I'm a competitor in the truest sense. My friends don't even like to participate in games with me because I am so determined to win. I thought to myself, "What do they mean by "focusing on your own personal race?"

Upon further consideration, this simple rule provided many inferences for my Christian walk. I thought of how often I try to "compete" with fellow believers, wondering when it will be my turn to receive the blessings I see them receiving. Consider this illustration. I am a Christian single that has participated in the weddings of countless friends. I am always sincerely happy for them, but I often question, "why isn't it my turn, God?" "I go to church every Sunday. I tithe and I study your Word." Now, watch how the "competition" eases in. Rather than focusing on my purpose during this particular season, my cry became, "she barely makes it to church every month. She isn't even giving you 2% of her paycheck. She hasn't peeled open her Bible in months. Why is she getting married and I'm not?" Think of Cain and Abel. Genesis 4 records that Cain's jealousy of God's favor upon Abel became so great that he killed his brother. In John 21, Jesus had just foreshadowed Peter's death and Peter became concerned with what would happen to John. Jesus' reply was "what is that to you?" Perhaps He asks us the same thing when we compare our situations with those of others.

Another reaction is "I'll just do more." I made the mistake of trying to run extra miles the week before my first practice run to "better prepare," only to discover that the extra "cramming" burnt me out and did more harm than good. We often fall into this trap in our walk with Christ. We think, "I'll just give more, I'll go to church more, and I'll go to a few more prayer meetings." Someone on the outside may look at this effort and think we're "sold out for Jesus". Not that God doesn't want us to serve, but He judges our motives. We may "do more" because we want God to give us more rather than out of our desire to have a deeper relationship with Him.

Unfortunately, many people fall prey to health and wealth doctrines, commonly known as "name it and claim it," that draw people to Christ under false pretenses. We try to turn God into a vending machine. In essence we are saying, "God, I'll do this for you if you do that for me." But God is not a genie and we can't rub our Bible three times and get what we want. Nor should we approach Him in that manner. Otherwise our service to the Lord could eventually become a rigid obligation rather than a passionate pursuit of relationship with Him. We should serve, love, and obey God simply because of who He is and for what He has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Yet, there was still another point I derived from this rule. As some of these "faster individuals" passed by me, I found my new goal was catching up to them rather than focusing on completing the training segment. As a result, I lost sight of the mark. How often in our spiritual journey do we use someone else as our standard? Our minds become clouded and we aren't able to see God's vision and will for our lives because we're pre-occupied with other's situations or possessions. Have the "things" that someone else has become the means to your happiness? Has someone or their material blessings replaced God as your focal point? The number one cause of car accidents is illegal lane changes. Are you headed for an "accident" because you are too busy in someone else's lane? The Christian life is not a competition. Stop trying to keep up with others. By comparing yourself to other believers you may be missing out on the true blessings God has for you. Solomon observed in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. Psalms 1 reminds us that things will happen in due season. We are not all on the same time frame. Instead of competing, we should build one another up. Share in others' victories and genuinely encourage them regardless of your own situation. You will produce fruit in your due season.

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Rule #1 - You don't have to "look" like a runner
Rule #2 - It's not a competition
Rule #3- Find a good pace group
Rule #4 - He who endures shall receive a crown
Rule #5- Don't look back
Rule #6- Drink water, drink water, drink water
Rule #7- Beware of the wall
Final Thoughts

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