A Prize-Winning RunNovember 4, 2014 at 11:57 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: 1 Corinthians 9, devotions for teachers, getting started, Isthmian Games, Olympics, races, racing, running, shortcuts
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
I Corinthians 9:24-26
There are many metaphors for life: a battle, a trial, a journey, a puzzle. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to compare the Christian life to a race. This would have been a familiar theme for the Corinthian Christians because of the Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games were a smaller version of the Olympic games. They featured organized athletic contests, including fights and races.
Everyone knows how a race works. Everybody who signs up to run gets to participate, but only one wins. This makes for a good analogy, even though it is not precisely true in the Christian life. As Christians, our prize is the approval of our Master, and we do run to obtain it, but it is not a zero sum game. Christ has enough “well dones” to go around, which means we are competing, but not against each other. It is like we are competing against ourselves.
The prize for winning a race at the Isthmian Games would have been a laurel or a grass crown – which is corruptible. It would look splendid on race day, but it would look like dead straw after a couple of days. In the race of the Christian life, our prize has eternal value.
Running in place or shadow boxing are handy for warming up before an earthly race or fight, but, in spiritual matters, we are not supposed to be playing games. We are affecting the lives of others for the sake of Christ. As fallen sinners, we may expect to encounter our share of relational drama, petty gossiping, even bickering, in-fighting, and childish squabbling, but Christ commands us to be victorious over those things. Our race is well underway, and we don’t have time to play around. We’re going to see King Jesus in a few days, and we don’t want to be ashamed or regretful.
So, let me give you a few things to keep in mind as you hit the ground running and keep your eyes on the prize.
1. Get started right.
Make sure you are saved, and make sure you know the Gospel. If your life is not Gospel-centered, then it’s not Christ-centered, and you are either loitering around the starting line long after the gun has sounded, or you’ve jumped the gun and are going to have to start over.
2. Don’t carry too much weight.
Material possessions will weigh you down in this race. So will cares and concerns and burdens that need to be given to God. You can’t win a race carrying a suitcase full of baggage.
3. Don’t get tangled up with the other runners.
4. Stay on the race track.
Taking a shortcut in a race will get you disqualified – like the lady who may have a taken a subway in the Boston Marathon. There are no shortcuts in the Christian race. You’re going to have to discipline yourself to read your Bible, to pray, to go to church every week, to serve, to love people you don’t feel like loving. You will need to learn to expect suffering, and to recognize it as an an opportunity to glorify God.