Keep Your Eye On The Prize

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)

We all have so many distractions that it is very hard to stay focused.  We all want to obey the first commandment and put God first in our lives, but we are pulled in so many directions from family, work, and friends.  I love the expression “keep your eye on the prize.”  It is often associated with athletes that are focused on performing at the highest possible level.   The Bible speaks to this in 1 Cor. 9:25 “All athletes are disciplined in their training.  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”  As Christians, we must realize that our ultimate prize will not be found on earth, but it is much greater than any earthly prize.

Scripture teaches us how to achieve our prize by storing up our treasure.  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and

steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21).  We store up our treasures in heaven each time we “feed His sheep” (John 21:17) and each time we see someone hungry and provide food, see someone thirty and provide something to drink, see a stranger and invite them in, or someone in need of clothes and provide clothing, and see someone sick in prison and go to visit.  (see Matt. 25:31-40).

We all have been given a unique gift and role to help build up the body of Christ.  Luke 9:62 warns against distraction from our roles.  “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the kingdom of God”  (Luke 9:62).  Many people express a desire to be used by God but sadly they will not.  They are exercising their free will and have decided that they are too busy.  They are “… wise in their own eyes…” (Proverbs 3:7).  They want to climb the corporate ladder, or want to buy a second house, or purchase other earthy treasures.  These are fine goals but should receive priority over God.    In the midst of their busyness, they try to carve out a little sliver from the pie of life and give it to God.  This is the definition of a lukewarm Christian.  The Bible speaks to this attitude in Rev. 3:16-18.

 “So I will spit you out of my mouth, because you are only warm and not hot or cold.You say, `I am rich and have many things. I need nothing.’ You do not know that you are in trouble and need help. You are poor. You are blind. And you have no clothes to wear. I tell you what you should do. You should buy from me gold that has been made clean by fire. Then you will be rich. And you should buy from me white clothes to wear. Then people will not see that you have no clothes, and you will not be ashamed. You should buy from me healing oil to put on your eyes. Then you will be able to see.”

If we are serious about being used by God, we must pray for God’s help to discern what we must prune so that time can be freed and then use the gift of time wisely.  We all have 24 hours in a day, but we all don’t use our time for the same purpose.  God has laid out a race for us all to run.  Adversity will come and try to slow you down.  Each time we must meet adversity with perseverance.

I feel that the enemy really enjoys keeping good people busy with church activities that have little or no impact on The Kingdom.  Much of our busyness is cast on us by the enemy as a means to keep us occupied and away from Kingdom building – time alone with God, ministry, mission, and reading The Word.

Prayer:  Dear God, We want to use the talents that you gave us to join with fellow Christians to build your Kingdom on earth.  Help us to use our secular responsibilities in such a way that they bring glory to You.  Help us avoid meaningless busy work that does bear good fruit.  We know that you sit as a refiner of silver.  Burn off our impurities and help us lead a more Christ-like life each day.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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