Have you ever come across the phrase "It's not how you start the race, but how you finish."? In many of his letters, Paul has used the picture of a man running a race. Have a look for example at 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Philippians 3:13-14. And also in the book of Hebrews, the writer uses this picture of a race at the start of chapter 12.
Here in Galatians 5, Paul again uses this picture of being in a race. And he wants to point out to the believers in Galatia that they had indeed been running a good race! They had started the race off well. But then Paul immediately goes on to ask "Who cut in on you to keep you obeying the truth?" So far in this letter, Paul has been talking about how it is only by grace through faith, and faith alone, that one can be saved and run the race. There is no other way! At the end of chapter 4, Paul speaks of two mountains, which we looked at on Friday. At the end of chapter 4, Paul says "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share the inheritance with the free woman's son." What Paul is saying is, get rid of the legalistic things, put to death the things of the flesh! In Christ, you are a child of the free woman, a child of God, and you receive an eternal inheritance!
The Galatian believers had received grace! They were people of faith, but now men had come in with false teaching, they had cut in on the race and were stopping them from obeying the truth! The question I want to ask today is... how are we doing in our race? As it says in Hebrews 12, are we "running with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith."? Or have we allowed something to cut in, distract us, hinder us, keeping us from obeying the truth? If that is the case, all we have to do is come back to Jesus, repent and fix our eyes back on him!
I don't know about you, but I want to be able to say the same thing that Paul was able to say in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness..." As I said, it's not how we start the race, but how we finish! And how was Paul able to finish the race? By keeping the faith!