Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way to get the prize. - 1 Cor 9:24 NIV
Whether we realize it or not, all of us are in the race of life. Some of us are clear about the course to follow. Some are not. Some of us are running with ease because we have trained hard and have established some best practices to run the best race we can. Others of us are wandering aimlessly because we can't see where we need to go. Still others feel like dropping out because of their lack of stamina due to poor preparation. Where are you on this race of life? Are you running to get the prize?
Before I go any further, I should confess to you that I don't like to run. But I do like and have played many other sports and I do like to win. I am no different in life. I want to succeed and I want to do it in the most efficient way possible. I want the prize. I want the victory. I believe that the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 shows us how to achieve it. Let's dig in!
We all must have something to strive for. If we don't, it is hard to keep motivated day in and day out in the sometimes mundane duties of every day life. The prize to which we all run for is this: to hear God say to us "Well done, my good and faithful servant." All of our specific goals to achieve this prize are different, because God has made us all unique to be used for the purpose He has in mind. However, all of our goals should include some means of furthering God's Kingdom on earth by sharing the good news of the gospel.
What prize are you seeking?
The Winning Formula (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Run to WIN - As the passage above states, Paul tells us to "run in such a way to get the prize". (1 Corinthians 9:24)
Run with DISCIPLINE - How is your training regimen? With the increasing demands of our fast-paced society, it is imperative that we stay disciplined in our daily time with God. If we don't spend time in our bibles or in prayer, we end up like a marathon runner who never takes a drink of water...flat on our faces.
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. (1 Cor 9:25 NIV)
Run with PURPOSE - Have you determined your course? Are your actions aligned with your purpose? Runners run the path they are told to run. They complete the course assigned to them without wandering aimlessly around. Just like the runner, if we don't have our course planned out, we will never win the prize because we will never finish the race? Do you have a personal mission or purpose statement? If you don't, first spend some time in prayer and in His word asking God to help you set your feet on the path He has intended for you. If you have one, do your actions fall into line with your purpose in life?
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. (1 Cor 9:26 NIV)
Run by the RULES - In any game we must play by the rules of the game in order to win the prize. We don't want to get disqualified, do we? In a life of service to God we must continually fill our minds with God's word so that we know the rules of the game. Paul understood the importance of keeping his mind and body pure and under the control of God rather than his own selfish wants and desires. We must strive to keep ourselves holy, as God is holy, so that we will not fall down and remain there, thus getting disqualified from the race. How well do you know God's "rules"? How willing are you to live by them no matter what the cost?
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 Cor 9:27 NIV)
Dear God in heaven, I thank you for allowing me to run in your race. Thank you for providing your word as water and as nourishment for my thirsty soul. Thank you for your Words that not only comfort but convict as I look into the "mirror" of them to view how I really stack up to your idea of perfection. Help me to put away my own desires so that I will not be disqualified from the work you have called me to do. Teach me your ways and make them so ingrained in me that even my very impulses are godly. Amen.