Monday, February 04, 2013
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
One of the coolest things that happens when you start to study Scripture is how you begin to view life through the lens of God’s perspective. You will literally begin to “think God’s thoughts after him” and see applications of The Word in everyday life. I would like to share with you one of my own applications from these verses:
Everyone who signs up for a marathon (26.2 miles) is allowed to run, but there are rules to the race. There is a race course mapped out, not by the runners, but by the Race Director. Time limits are also set, if one is going to be a “finisher” before the event closes. Perhaps modern marathons are a little more applicable to the thrust of this passage, in that all finishers get a prize – the Finisher’s Medal. To get the medal, I had to train with a purpose, train for the event. I ran four times a week for nearly four months. Each run had a specific purpose – speed, pace, or distance. It was physically impossible to daily perform every kind of training needed to prepare me – but I could do something that contributed to achieving the goal every day. I adjusted my diet, planned my days, changed what I read and the kinds of advice I sought out. Training didn’t go fully as expected – I got sick twice, battled through several nagging little injuries, and my longest run was 16.5 miles (had planned to work up to a 20 mile run) – but still kept at the goal. The race didn’t go as planned, either. Wind, pain, and darkness came at me in ways I didn’t expect. There was an occasional urge to cut the course, to jump into the opposite lane before the turn – but I knew that at the very least I would lose the respect of my fellow runners and at most I could have been disqualified from the race entirely. That choice would have labeled me a cheater. I knew that if I had completed the race after cheating, the medal would be tarnished, would have meant significantly less…no matter how many people congratulated me. But I persevered and ran the entire course set out before me. The Finsher’s Medal was heavy, especially when it was placed around my neck immediately after finishing. I like that there was significant weight to it, because there was a lot of effort that went into obtaining the medal, and it symbolizes more to me than it possibly could to any other person. I was completely spent when I finished, when I stopped running. I hope my life is like that.
Paul wrote this to Timothy:
…train yourself to be godly.8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8
And at the end of his letter, Paul reminds the Corinthians:
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58
There is a prize! We are told to pursue it, and guaranteed that it is worth the effort.