Of late I have been running a lot, partly as a spiritual worship thing, partly as part of a drive to be healthier and become fitter. Paul does say our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), so I figured it was time I started taking better care of mine…
And being all into technology and mobile apps, and having just got a fancy new phone with built in GPS, I have found a running coach application for it. (The app was released for free by a certain trainer manufacturer as a ploy to get me to buy their running shoes, it didn’t work, I just bought a pair from a rival brand…) So as I run my phone will now shout at me in the voice of cycling Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton, telling me when I need to run faster, when I can take it easier for a bit, how far I’ve gone, how long I’ve been running for and how many calories I have burnt off. My favourite part is when I get to the end though and she tells me “Well done, you’ve done a great job!” There is nothing like praise from a pre-recorded voice clip, right?
It got me thinking. My phone has no way of knowing how hard I was going at the run. It can’t tell if I was finding it easy or a struggle. It will never know if I was pushing myself as hard as I could or simply coasting along without breaking a sweat. When the “well done!” comes at the end of the run, only I will know if I have really merited it.
The Bible tells us to run the race of life with endurance (Hebrews 12:1), striving towards the goal of being told “Well done, my good and faithful servant” by God when we reach heaven (Matthew 25:23). Salvation is given to us by grace alone through faith alone – it is a gift we don’t deserve and our actions could never merit being told “Well done” by God – we are all flawed sinners who mess up all the time. But as we stand there we will know if we have lived worthily. We will know if we have done our best to follow Jesus faithfully and to love the least of our brothers and sisters, or if we “took it easy”. Paul warns that some people in heaven will have scraped in – barely making it over the flames of the fire.
“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-15
You can do that, but when the well done comes you will feel like a fraud. Or you can give it your all now, loving mercy, acting justly and walking humbly before God. You can give your all to him. You can devote yourself to growing closer to him and letting his light shine through you. And when the well done comes, you will know that you don’t deserve it, but that through the grace of God you have strived to be worthy. Make the choice today to run full heartedly towards the “well done”, giving it your everything, because God is worthy of our all.