Running A Different Race

March 23, 2017

Do you ever feel tired?

If you’re like me, you just raised your hand and added a shout for emphasis. Yes! I feel tired all of the time!

In Proverbs 31, the Bible describes a woman. You may have heard of her before, but if you haven’t, let me tell you – she knows about exhaustion. Verse after verse describes her daily demands … plant a vineyard, pick wool, provide food. I’m not sure when this gal sleeps, but it seems, whenever it is, it’s not for long. Yet still the Bible says,

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25 (NLT)

When I look at her to-do list I scratch my head, because let’s be honest, demands drain. They suck the life right out of you, so certainly they’d take your laugh with them, too. But not this girl.

Her work appears to do the opposite. She gains energy as she scurries to and fro with her spindle and shovel. She lengthens her list when the opportunity arises. She brings, provides, considers and extends. All for who? Herself? Her future? Her dreams? None of the above.

It’s all for someone else.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Discontentment lies at the root of self-seeking actions. We strive for something greater because what we have is not enough.

The gun fires. Let the race for Happy begin. We set our sights on the finish line, whatever it may be, and exhaust ourselves trying to reach it. With eyes locked on personal goals others get left in the dust.

Finally we break through the ribbon to cheers and applause! We breathe a deep sigh of relief and smile. I did it. I made it to Happy.

The only problem …

Once you get to Happy, Happy moves.

Six years ago we bought a house in Texas. The uncertainty of Luke’s job often left us wondering where we would live and for how long, so the stability of a house near family brought bright smiles to our hearts.

When we walked through the front door we knew God picked this house for us. It was perfect. Right up until we decided the carpet must go. What once was white now was brown and grossed us out.

A short time later we overhauled the bathroom. All-in-all we’ve painted walls, added rooms, replaced counters … Happy moved.

But this girl, in Proverbs 31, she runs a different race.

She hung up her running shoes before the race even started! She refused to chase Happy.

“But you, {insert your name}, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 (ESV)

She runs not after temporary gains and fleeting feel-good moments. Instead, she lays it all on the line for love. For endurance. For godliness.

She considers not how much she has to lose, but how much everyone else has to gain.

This kind of attitude may paint the picture of a life emptied of all fun or pleasure. But if you look closer you see, her works heap praise and reward on her life.

It’s risky business, living to serve. Counting others higher than yourself. But you won’t be the first to try your hand at it. Jesus paved this trail,

“Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)

To turn your works towards others, try these three ideas:

  1. Work with consistency. Strength to do anything requires regular repetition. To serve well, we must serve often. (Proverbs 31:17)
  2. Work without complaining. Remove bitterness and selfishness and consider every task as a special assignment from the Lord. (Philippians 2:14)
  3. Work hard. Choose to pursue hard things. To grow in strength, we must do things that require strength. (Haggai 2:4)

God wants us all to be clothed with strength and dignity with a laugh on our lips and no fear of the future. One vital step towards this is how we answer the question, What moves you?

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)