Do you listen to people who discourage you to go against the
principles of God?
There were about 100 people participating in the large Saturday
group runs at my particular site, divided into "pace groups". I was in the
12-minute mile group with 8 other runners. There were pace groups as fast as 7
minutes and some as "less fast" as 16 minutes (I have learned there is no such
thing as "slow" in this training!). Thus, I ran with the same smaller group
every Saturday. We shared the trials and triumphs of running over the 26-weeks
and as the miles gradually increased each week we continued to encourage one
another. If someone was having a "bad day" we prodded him or her along. We
talked a lot during our runs so I was able to learn a lot about the people in my
This component of the training forced me to consider my own "pace group" in
life, my most intimate circle of friends. I even mused at the fact that my
parents have always called them my "running buddies". Am I surrounding myself
with fellow believers that are of like mind? Are we helping one another to grow
in Christ or are we stumbling blocks for one another?
Proverbs 13:20 testifies to the fact that we are who we hang with. Are we
running with the wise or associating with fools? A friend relayed her
frustration to me about discussing relationships with others because they often
chastise her for refusing to "shack up." It discouraged her so much that she
began to second-guess her relationship and her stand on purity. Do you listen to
people who discourage you to go against the principles of God?
The Bible reiterates the importance of meeting together with fellow Christians.
Church is our big "group run" that takes place every Sunday. I was at my
training site every Saturday morning at 5:50 am to receive instruction, rejoice
over the week's accomplishments and train. I was there to equip myself for the
run. Likewise, it is just as important for us to be in church, on time, ready to
receive instruction and enter into worship and praise to equip ourselves for the
run. Becoming equipped to go out and perform God's work is not solely the job of
the pastor and the deacons. We in the body of Christ must also minister in our
communities and we must receive instruction to do so adequately. As
states plainly, He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some
evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the
work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
I next considered the importance of having so many different pace groups at
varying speeds. One of the rules of the program was to always cheer and
encourage other groups on the trail. We in the body of Christ must encourage
other believers. They may not be in our close knit pace group, but we are all a
part of the larger family of believers. Sometimes I look at the faster groups
and think that possibly one day I'll be able to get to that level for another
marathon (not in an envious or competitive way - let's not forget rule #2!). But
I know that is not my pace right now, and while I strive for that level of
performance, I do not get out of "order" and move ahead of the training plan. In
the same manner we should not get ahead of God's plan for our lives. However, I
do enjoy talking to people in those groups just to glean some insight from them.
Similarly, we can look to mature Christians. It is important to incorporate
those relationships in our lives. For instance, if I want to be in a Godly
marriage one day, should I only surround myself with singles that may have a
skewed expectation of marriage? Of course not. I should also interact with
Christian married couples that can share the challenges and joys of the marriage
covenant. Our friends can either help us to stretch our vision or choke our
dreams. Check your pace group.