1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 (NIV): 24 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. 25 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. 26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27 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.
Paul is not talking about earning our salvation or keeping it by works, he's talking about being the best Christian we can be. Pushing ourselves to be more and more like Christ. He uses the illustration of a race. It takes hard work to win a race and it takes hard work to push ourselves to be the best followers of Christ we can be.
I have enjoyed watching the remarkable athletes in this year's Winter Olympics. They do things I didn't know were possible. I didn't know a person could jump backward off of a ramp going down a ski hill, then continue to the next ramp backward and jump off of it too, spinning in the air and landing perfectly upright and backward. I would kill myself if I tried that. And they do get hurt at times, but they are dedicated. They train and practice hour after hour, over and over again. They are disciplined.
They get up and keep going. Paul says in Philippians 3, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”
The winner may only beat his competition by a milli-second, so he must push himself. He must be focused on the prize and not get distracted. And he must know the rules and follow them so he is not disqualified. Jesus says we are wise if we hear him and do what he says. In your walk with Christ, don't be ordinary. Go for the gold!
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.