1 Cor. 9:24-27
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
2 Tim. 2:5
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”
Phil. 3:14 (NLT)
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Do you think the Lord is trying to tell me something?
The commentaries say that the Greek games were more of a passion than just entertainment. Therefore, the athletes went through no less than 10 months of rigorous training. The entire culture saw the games as a source of patriotic pride. It was not uncommon for those competing to exercise great discipline, self-denying diets, endure extreme cold and heat, all while pushing themselves toward perfection.
What does this mean to us “spiritually”?
Obviously it’s a call to persevere and exercise self-control. But for me it’s not just a word to admonish us to live a more disciplined Christian life. Right now, I believe it’s more of a “cheer’ from the Lord – saying “Don’t give up! You’re so close, don’t give up! PUSH yourself – and you’ll get the prize.”
I’ve been contending for a long time for very specific promises that the Lord has given me and my family. Many times it has felt like I AM in a race…and I can’t say that I’ve always “run”…sometimes I’ve walked, sometimes I’ve barely crawled, sometimes I’ve been so hurt, I’ve actually limped…and unfortunately there were times when I got off the track altogether (but by His grace, I’ve always gotten back on) – one thing I haven’t done…is QUIT. I’ve remained in the race!
And now, when I feel like the finish line is so close…this is the point in the race where you feel excitement, yet you’re exhausted. Weariness has settled in and you feel it in every “spiritual” muscle you have. Often when you’re running your own personal race, you don’t have a crowd of people cheering you on. Many of the spectators in your life got tired of the length of the race and went their own way. This is when you’ve got to know that the Lord Himself (as only HE can do) is watching & cheering for you, running with you, AND waiting for you at the finish line (all at the same time).
All we have to do is:
- Deny your flesh (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
- Stay on track (2 Tim. 2:5 – obey the rules)
- Focus on the prize (the promise) and keep running! (Phil. 3:14)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” –
2 Tim. 4:6-8