I knew a man named Emanuel Greco some years ago. He was the pastor who gave me and my wife our premarital counseling and performed our wedding service. We had a good relationship even though we attended and served at a neighboring church. At the time, I disagreed with him on some peripheral doctrines, and felt that he was too set in his ways. I desired to get in on the ground-floor of a new Charsimatic church that was destined for great things, not some old -fashioned Pentecostal church.
Years later, long after Pastor Greco had gone to be with the Lord, I wish that I had seen things differently. I wish that I had stayed there and been mentored by him. Although we disagreed on some theological fine points, Pastor Greco had godly integrity. Once he had decided to stand on a question, he stuck to it and would not let anyone persuade him otherwise. Though some may think this was a sign of a closed mind, consider that he had been a Christian many years and held certain beliefs because he had carefully studied the word of God, and thought long and prayed hard before making a decision or taking a stand. He did not accept blindly what was told him by someone else.
I wish that I had seen this man’s integrity, humility, and his courage at that time, for now I realize that he was the perfect example of the mature Christian running a balanced race. I recall that when I would talk to him on the occasions we would meet, I would inquire as to his health. He suffered from crippling arthritis and heart and respiratory problems that often interfered with his ministerial duties. So when I asked him how he was, he would always say, “We press on.” That’s all. He would not complain or get angry. He would not blast other people or have attacks of self-pity. He would merely say “We press on.”
Pastor Greco was paraphrasing Paul. Despite the pain of several debilitating illnesses, the combination of which eventually ended his life, he pressed on. Despite the abuse and trials he suffered at the hands os other people, he pressed on. Despite the pressure to conform to a world and a church that was tolerating evil and sin, and departing from the Bible, he pressed on. And he pressed on without complaint, compromise, quitting, or losing sight of the goal. He pressed on with compassion, passion for the truth of the gospel, humility, willing service, hope, and uncompromising integrity. He lived a life in imitation of Christ Jesus, but he would be the first to admit that he had not reached the goal, that he still had a distance to run. He pressed on.
Are you pressing on, or are you dwelling on the sins of the past, beating your breast wailing over your inadequacies? Are you pressing on toward the goal of perfection in Christ? Or have you lost your focus and tripped up on self-pity or pride? Are you living up to what you have attained, striving always to grow more like Christ? Or are you lagging behind, looking at someone else runningthe race? Are you excessively concerned with the walk of other Christians or are you trying to be more understanding of them, knowing that your knowledge and walk, though differing in degree from theirs, still falls short of the goal. We are all running in the same race. It doesn’t matter who reaches the finish line first, only that we finish. We should continue to run with the goal of Christ Jesus ever before us, and encourage others to do the same.
We must follow Paul’s example so that we can, in turn, be examples to others. Paul continued to run toward the goal for he knew who he was as well as who he could be in Christ Jesus.