PASTOR'S PEN: Making laps that count

The NASCAR Sprint Cup races at 23 different tracks during the year. It would be possible for someone to bring a car that meets the required specifications of NASCAR, start on the pole, run for 500 miles and cross the finish line first and still not win an official NASCAR race — if they are at the wrong track.

It seems strange to think that anyone would run the full length of a race, putting all kinds of miles on their motor and using up valuable tires and time which all amounts to nothing in the end; yet people do this with their lives all the time. You and I do good things and think, "Boy, this is important and valuable and will get me right with God."  While in reality it amounts to nothing. Sure it has a little benefit for a short time on earth, but in the big picture it’s like building a castle near the ocean. It will soon be wiped away and will be meaningless.

Isaiah 64:6 says, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags." These righteous acts or good deeds are compared to used Kleenex. Nobody wants them. They are worthless. When we do good without God it’s like running a race car around and around on the wrong track expecting to win a trophy. You can’t win because you’re not even in the right city! You’re spinning your tires for nothing in the end.

So how do I get a righteousness that counts? Romans 10:9-10 gives the answer, "... if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

The only way for your good deeds to count for eternity is to make Jesus Lord of your life. Only then will you be at the right track running laps that count "not only in this life but in the one to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). (Also read Ephesians 2:8-10)