There are other passages that challenge us in this. 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27 (here @ Bible Gateway), Hebrews 12:1 – 2 (here @ Bible Gateway), and 2 Timothy 2:5 (here @ Bible Gateway) are a few.
We know that the race is such that some do not finish. In Paul’s circle Demas deserted, he loved the present world more than he loved Christ (2 Timothy 4:10 (here @ Bible Gateway)). John speaks of those leaving the race, 1 John 2:19 (here @ Bible Gateway).
It is not only in the New Testament that we see this. A cursory reading of Kings and Chronicles will yield a list of those who started and did not finish well. Focus for a moment on Genesis 49:15 (here @ Bible Gateway). Jacob is prophesying over the 12 sons. Note what he says about Issachar. He found a resting place that was pleasant, bowed his shoulder to bear the burdens of that place, and became a slave to it. He chose to rest rather than to fight.
Peter shares a similar warning in 2 Peter 2:19 (here @ Bible Gateway), by what a man is overcome, he is enslaved. Issachar was overcome by a desire to rest in a pleasant place. Demas was overcome by a love for the world.
This journey is a long obstacle course. We continually confront distractions, difficulties, detours, that would take us out or take us off course. In a competition if we fail to win, fail to finish, there is always the next race. In this race, this journey, there is not.
What must we do to finish, and finish strong? We will look at that next time.