Most are familiar with Aesop’s classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, where the speedy hare is beaten in a race against a slow tortoise. While the hare boasted of his great intentions, he was lacking in action, and as a result did not finish well. I find many parallels between this fable and the Christian life.
Like the boastful hare, we boast of great intentions but get distracted by many things- some outright sinful (e.g. sexual immorality) and others just desires/passions which keep us from whole-hearted devotion to Christ (e.g. love of money, sports, or sleep). The results can be devastating. In the past year I have seen marriages crumble, addictions form, and any desire for Christ grow cold. The hare lost because he didn’t take the race seriously, but rather chose to take a couple extra naps and eat a nice big meal; figuring he had plenty of time to win the race later on. However, he learned the hard way and lost. Within the church, many feel they can play around with sin and pleasures, having time to catch up and win later on. They rely on crash course Bible studies, a conference, and/or missions trip to a 3rd world country to “get them in gear” for the win. Ultimately, by relying on these sporadic “Jesus jolts” to sustain them will not work and they will not finish well.
The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to live our lives accordingly. We need to live the life of the tortoise.
In the fable, the tortoise consistently pressed on during the race. He was not distracted and he did not rely on power boosts. His consistency resulted in him finishing well by winning the race. For us, we need to walk as children of the light (Ephesians 5), consistently striving for holiness and active obedience daily, cultivating a deeper relationship and love for Christ through daily Bible study and prayer, and active participation in the local church. This will result in a lifetime of loving others, serving others, making disciples, and having a tremendous kingdom impact pleasing to the Lord. The net outcome of this life marked by consistency will far surpass the occasional conference attendance or missions trip involvement. The church is in desperate need of more tortoises and less hares!
Paul admonishes the Corinthians to run their race to win: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Let us run to win, plodding consistently through our lives as Christ-followers. May we be able to echo Paul’s words at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
May we all strive hard to run the race consistently and run it well with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus through it all, not being distracted by the sins which so easily entangle (Hebrews 12:1). May we all celebrate together at the “finish line” one day in heaven!