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.”
The Winter Olympic Games are currently being held in Sochi, Russia. Hundreds of athletes from around the world are competing for medals in various sports. Only three medals are awarded in each event: gold, silver and bronze. And only one athlete wins the prize: the gold medal, which is a symbol of being the best in the world.
The apostle Paul made several references to athletic competition in his letters. In this particular passage, he is emphasizing the need for self- discipline. In the same way that an athlete maintains a rigid training regimen in order to win a temporary, earthly prize, the follower of Christ must practice the same type of spiritual discipline in order to receive a permanent reward, or crown, in heaven. While Paul is not talking about earning our way to heaven through good works, he is teaching us that there are rewards that we can receive from God in this life and in the life to come. Our motivation for earning such prizes should not be selfish. Rather we should maintain a life of holiness and goodness so that we can please and glorify our Heavenly Father, in gratitude for what he has done for us.
Father, I commit myself to strict spiritual discipline; prayer, Bible study and moral living. I want to run this race in a manner which will show Your love to others. In Your Son’s name, Amen.