A Strong Finish: Laying Down Your Life

Marathon © Pavol Stredansky 

In the 2010 Zheng-Kai Marathon, elite runner Jaqueline Kiplimo spotted a disabled Chinese runner having trouble opening a water bottle. The runner had no hands and was dehydrated. Kiplimo not only helped him with the water bottle, she also slowed her pace and ran with him from about Mile 6 to Mile 23, aiding him at water stops. Even with the delay, she snagged second, but sacrificed first place, and the higher prize money that went with it, to help a fellow runner. 

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friend.” 

Friend? Okay. But laying down your life for a total stranger? 

Yes. Jesus said as much when He related the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). 

The parallels between the story of the Good Samaritan and that of the Zheng-Kai marathon are chilling. 

Both the Samaritan and Kiplimo witnessed an urgent need. 

Right in front of them. 

Both had the choice to keep going or to stop and render aid. 

Both made the sacrificial choice to stop and lay down their lives for another.

Here’s how we can follow their example:

Pray: Ask for a willing heart tuned to the Holy Spirit.

Look: Keep your eyes open and your heart soft. Opportunities abound. The mom struggling to get the stroller through the doorway. The elderly lady who just dropped something. The family member who is neck deep in a project and needs grace and help with chores, meals, and patience.

Choose: It will cost you something. Do it anyway.

Give: What do you have? Time? Cash? Free hands as in Kiplimo’s case? Lay it down.

A “Well done” will be waiting at the finish line.


When have others sacrificed for you? How did you feel about it?

When have you sacrificed for others? What motivated you? 

Cultivate the habit of humble service. Hold a Good Samaritan challenge as a family. Set a time frame. Keep track of daily opportunities for each member. Talk through challenging decisions. Reward the family for progress. 

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