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. 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 Corinthians 9:24,25).
This weekend, the world’s attention is drawn to a Russian town on the coast of the Black Sea. And although Sochi is one of the few Russian cities with a sub-tropical climate, it is home to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In Bible times, Olympic games were held outside of the winter months. Rather than huge financial rewards for those bringing home medals, athletes were rewarded with an olive-wreath crown, or laurel.
Of interest is that although the Apostle Paul frequently used running as a metaphor for the Christian life, Jews were precluded from participating in these races.
Not only did these athletic festivals mix competition with idolatry, ritual sacrifices, and worship of heathen gods, but competitors ran in the nude (presumably for what contemporary runners call “running economy”!) all of which was repugnant to the Hebrew mind.
However, in writing to the Christ-followers at Corinth, Paul explains that the faith is analogous to running a race. Successful competition requires:
- self-discipline, to create a personal environment where the Lord is honoured by obedience;
- strenuous effort as empowered by the Holy Spirit;
- focus on the goal of God’s calling, gifting and purpose;
- self-denial, recognizing that the Master rewards those who run the race in recognition of His sovereign authority over our lives.
Takeaway: may I be intentional about pleasing Him, and able to say with Paul: “I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).