In the ancient Olympic Games, the winners didn’t receive gold, silver, or bronze medals like they do today. Instead, they were crowned with laurel leaves.
So if you were a runner nearing the end of your race, you’d see the emperor standing there holding the laurel leaves you hoped would be placed on your head. That was your reward.
Sometimes when people set goals, it helps them stay motivated by choosing a reward for themselves if they reach them. When I was in track and field in high school, I hated going to practice. But if I knew there was a pretty girl watching, it always helped my motivation.
In the race of life, we have an even better motive. Jesus Himself is watching us. The writer of Hebrews tells us, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV).
That is the key: looking unto Jesus. We’re not doing it for applause or fame or any other thing. We just want to hear Him say to us one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV).
But what does it mean to look to Jesus? It means turning your eyes away from other things and fixing them on Him. For instance, if you really focus on something, everything else becomes somewhat blurry.
It’s the same when you’re using a camera. When you get your subject dialed in, the focus blurs out other elements so your subject stands out more clearly.
That’s what it means to look to Jesus. By looking to Him, you’re putting Him first. You’re filling your mind with the Word of God. And that can help you get through whatever you’re going through. Focus on Jesus.