1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Yikes. Where do I even start? Okay, so I’m gonna do my best to break this down in a way that sort of makes sense but honestly who knows how this will go down. First things first. We’re all running a race. For Christians, the race is run on the path that God chose for us. He set up the track and the dates of the race, all we have to do is show up and stay on the path. Now, running isn’t passive or lazy. When we run, it has to be a whole-hearted effort. No half-hearted running allowed! Correct me if I’m wrong, but, to run a race and not try to win is a waste of time. It doesn’t make any sense to enter a race and then not give it your all and try to win the prize. For Christians running the race, what is the prize you’re trying to obtain? Paul tells us that our goal is not a perishable crown made by human hands but an imperishable crown in heaven. I think the coolest thing about these crowns is that they aren’t going to stay with us in heaven, we get to throw them back down at the feet of Jesus, giving Him all the glory and honor for what He has done. Because, while we may be given a crown… it wasn’t really our strength or efforts that allowed us to obtain it. So, to keep it for ourselves makes no sense. Okay and then we’re told that Paul doesn’t run with uncertainty. He knows the steps he has to take, the obstacles he’s going to deal with, and what’s waiting for him at the other side. The fact that Paul kept running the race is pretty incredible, honestly. Life for him was kind of awful a lot of the time. And yet he saw the eternal perspective of his sufferings in a way that allowed him to have joy and peace that couldn’t be explained in earthly terms. He knew how to be uncomfortable and still have joy. His life preached the gospel whether he was comfortable or uncomfortable, safe or unsafe.