My wife and I use an app that tracks our workouts, including our runs. It has GPS and can map the route taken, and at the end it not only tells us the distance but the time and pace. Input your weight and it will even tell you how many calories you burned. It’s almost like having a coach in your pocket.
Another feature on the app is connecting to others and allowing everyone to see how each others’ workouts are going. We don’t use that feature, but some people do and to great benefit.
Now a study finds that sharing this kind of data may make running contagious. People ran more, ran faster and ran more often if their friends using one of these apps did. (Can Running Be Contagious? This Study Shows It May Be.)
Encouraging others to work out isn’t a new idea, of course. It’s been around long before smart phone apps, or even telephones themselves, existed. And it has spiritual significance:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly … . (1 Corinthians 9:24-26.)
Notice that Paul is not saying that only one Christian will be awarded the prize. That’s merely how sports competitions work. He tells his readers that they are all in training to receive a crown. How do you train? By focusing on Jesus:
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2.)
In fact, because of your new life in Jesus you have already received your spiritual reward:
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. …
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household … . (Ephesians 2:6-7, 19.)
Being a member of God’s household means you belong to him forever. As Jesus said:
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:28-29.)
Jesus himself has given you the encouragement to continue along the race he has set before you. You will finish it because he has not only promised to hold onto you forever but because you are already seated with him in the heavenly realms.
Run well. You have a great coach.