In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, “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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to 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 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV).”
Paul’s analogy comparing self discipline in his spiritual life to the self disciple of an athlete in training probably resonates with a lot of you. Playing to win is a fairly universal concept, and most people are wired to compete with one goal in mind: victory.
However, I am not one of those people. To be honest, I’m one of the least competitive people you will ever meet. If I compete in any activity, it’s for the joy of participating. I know. Your jaw just hit the floor. I can hear the gasps of disgust.
For whatever reason, the concept of an earthly prize has never motivated me. But I know that spiritual discipline is important, and an essential part of our lives as Christians. Without training ourselves to spend time digging into God’s word and practicing what we preach, we risk being disqualified for the prize.
Verse 26 in the New Living Translation says, “So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”
As Christians, we need to run with purpose in every step in our lives. But that’s certainly not easy -- Paul talked about beating his body to make it his slave to accomplish this! I know that I’ve taken aimless steps off course or found myself jogging in place and making no efforts to move forward. And I need to keep training to get my spiritual life in check so that I can qualify for that eternal crown!
Is there a purposeful step you can take right now?