In a recent sermon I took us to a location in the Bible which I love. For me there are some illustrations which “click” in my mind more than others. Hopefully you have found some great passages that you love finding all over again in your personal study. The passage I’m talking about is 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”.
I think when I read this passage, it’s more of a motivational passage. It tells me of the mindset of a winner. Paul was someone who was extroverted, driven, focused, and victorious in his Christian faith. He’s a great role model for all of us. In this passage, I glean the answer to the question: what makes a winner? What did Paul had as a Christian athlete to keep moving forward?
Paul had purpose. He saw his Christian life as a race; not a sprint, but a marathon. He knew he needed to see himself in this race to be motivated to run. The question that reflects back to me is “Am I running? How fast, how slow? Am I going to make it to the end? What obstacles are in my way? Can I help people keep pace along side me as others have helped me get back into the race?”
Paul also had discipline. The line “…everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things…” resonates this thought. You know someone who trains for athletics just by looking at their physique or by watching their diet, right? They walk differently, they talk differently, they have an entirely focused mentality because they are working hard towards a goal of athletic greatness. The same should be true of me in a spiritual sense.
Paul also had will. He knew he had to do things that were hard, or uncomfortable to work towards his finish line. How did he learn to have this will? It seems he was just so motivated to be pleasing to His God he just did it. It’s no surprise that one of the most famous tag lines for an athletic wear company is “Just Do It”. We need an iron will to push us in the right direction towards victory.
Make no mistake, we are all in a race. We are either going to make it across that finish line, or fall short. Let us learn from the example of Paul and have purpose, discipline, and will.