One day I’d like to run a marathon.
The problem is that means I would have to train to run a marathon. For most people, it’s the thought of all that running that would bother them, but for me, that’s not it. I like running (hence the desire to complete a marathon). It’s just that as of yet, other things take precedence over training. I’d rather be hanging out with my family, meeting with girls in my church’s college ministry, or writing blog posts. To say “I don’t have the time” would be inaccurate – there are just other uses of my time that I consider more important.
However, as a Christian, I know that I must always be training. For example, I must be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within me (1 Peter 3:15 ). I have to work to present myself in a manner that would please God (2 Timothy 2:15)- not in order to be saved, but because He has saved me. These things don’t happen overnight, just like the ability to run a marathon doesn’t. They require work, diligence and preparation.
In Matthew 10:16 we learned why this training is so important. Scripture states:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
Christ knows that our walk with Him on this Earth will be filled with challenges, and He wants us to be prepared to deal with them.
Additionally, our Savior tells us what this training should entail.
First, we should be girded with wisdom – studying and learning so that we are mentally equipped to teach others about Christ (and answer their questions, provide reproof to other followers when needed, and to encourage one another with Truth.) But in doing so, we should be marked with gentleness and love. Our character and our mental acuity should point others to Christ. Just like it may be tempting for a marathoner to focus on endurance over speed, so in the Christian life it is tempting to focus on one aspect of our training over another. But Christ tells us that we must work on knowing Him and on loving others in order to be prepared.
Just like it would be foolish to think I could get up and run a marathon tomorrow, it would be foolish for the Christian to think that diligent training is unnecessary. Without it, we would not able to accurately represent Christ with our words, and most people recognize that. But we must not think that our words are all that matter – how we present Truth to others should represent Christ as well. And we must train on both fronts. So that in loving others, and in presenting Christ, we can run this race in a manner that pleases our Lord.