Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
- Hebrews 12:1
When I was a kid, I had all kinds of ribbons on my walls for races I had run, but not one of them was blue. Not one of them had the words "first place." They were all purple. Purple represented "honorable mention." An honorable mention is not first, second, third, or fourth place. It means "also ran." In other words, "We don't want him to feel bad, so we'll give him a purple ribbon."
Go for the Gold.
Of course, everyone wants first place. Everyone wants to win the gold medal. That's where the prestige and popularity are. That's where you get all the strokes and the "atta-boys."
But let me say this. I am running this race of life, and the Bible tells me that one day in heaven there will be a reward waiting for me. It won't be based on how much I have done or how much recognition I have gained in the course of my life. It will be based on how faithful I was to what God called me to do. The same is true for you. Your reward will be based on how faithful you have been through the days of your life to the calling you have received from God.
Run for Jesus.
Let me also say that I am not running this race for the reward. Nor am I running it for other people or to score points. I am running this race for Jesus. He is the One we all should be running for.
The apostle Paul presents the same principle in Philippians 3:10: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. . .." Paul was saying, "This is why I'm doing it. My purpose for running this race is to know Jesus Christ." That is what mattered to him. And that is what should matter to us.