Racing has taught me one hardcore truth, one life-changing thing that a lot of people never get from real life. Maybe you’ve heard it yourself:

There is a goal to everything worth doing.

For the NASCAR driver, that goal is the finish line, where the checkered flag is waved and the victor is named. But life has a finish line, too. And when the race of life finally ends, you’ll be rewarded accordingly. If you’ve completed your course, you’ll be rewarded. If you’ve exceeded expectations, you’ll be rewarded. If you’ve overcome great obstacles to place higher on the leaderboard than others thought you could, you’ll be rewarded. And if you’ve handled yourself with dignity throughout the race, you’ll be rewarded. But the race will eventually end, the points will eventually be tallied, and the results will eventually be made official. So run your race with this in mind.

The Apostle Paul understood this principle better than anyone, and he used the analogy of racing to help the Christians at Philippi understand it, too. “I press on to reach the end of the race,” Paul wrote, “and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14, NLT).

Never take your eyes off the trophy.

Now I’ll be honest—anytime Paul’s talking about racing, I’m a guy who takes his words seriously. What Paul’s saying is this: The race will end when it ends. And when it ends, the results will be forever etched in stone. So make the most of your race while you’re still running. And never stop pressing toward the prize that is waiting for you at the finish line.

Never take your eyes off the trophy, which is the approval of the Lord, and the crown of righteousness that is laid up for you in heaven.