As Christians, we are not called to be armchair quarterbacks (spectators only), but rather as Christians we are each called to run the race, in order that we may complete our mission assignment…
Our mission assignment is that we are to fulfill the Great Commission that God has assigned to us, which is to preach the Gospel message and to disciple nations.
In order for this to happen, Paul taught us that we are to first discipline ourselves and run the race, in order that we may win the Prize, which ultimately is the Crown of Righteousness, that comes only from Christ’s propitious sacrifice and shed blood on Calvary’s Cross.
Everyone is to have their own relationship with God; that is, read the Bible every day, pray every day, obey His voice every day, without being prompted, pressured or monitored.
If you don’t do this, you are spiritually still a baby.
Paul at the end of his ministry, in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, says…
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to ALL who have longed for His appearing.
In these above verses, the apostle Paul writes of his life as running a race.
He says here, near the end of his life, that he has finished the race and kept the faith.
He looks forward to the prize, the crown of righteousness, the Lord will award to him and to all believers.
The crown of righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that will be received in fullness at the Judgment Day.
The crown symbolizes the eternal life that every believer who finishes the race will receive.
As true believers, we mustn’t just talk about running the race, we must actually do it.
John describes, in 1 John 2:3-6, what should be the goal of every disciple – one who considers him or herself to be a follower of Christ,
The Test of Knowing Him
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.
By this we know that we are in Him.
6 He who says he abides in Him (in Jesus) ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Paul describes this Christian pilgrimage that we are all on as though we are running a race, for a specific Prize.
So, let’s see what the Bible says running the race is all about.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Paul says,
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?
So run to win!
All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal Prize.
So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadow boxing.
I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
Paul’s new metaphor here compares living in service to Christ to athletic competition.
He likely had in mind the Olympic games, as well as the Isthmian games (one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece) which took place every other year in Corinth.
Foot races were a common event in such competitions. Corinthian society was highly competitive.
In that context, Paul’s readers would agree that in any race, only one runner wins.
Why participate if you’re not going to try to win?
Paul urges them to do what it takes to win!
His point is not that only one Christian can succeed, spiritually speaking. Or that we are in a contest against brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul is referring only to the effort and dedication exhibited by the athletes: that is what the believer should duplicate in their pursuit of Christ.
In these verses Paul builds a metaphor comparing Paul’s foregoing freedoms, in order to win people to faith in Christ, with an athlete training to win a prize.
Both voluntarily give up things to which they are otherwise entitled.
That requires self-sacrifice and a tough approach to one’s own feelings.
They do this for the sake of victory. But the athlete can win only a wreath that will quickly die.
In contrast, Paul aims to win a prize that will live forever.
He also trains himself in this way to avoid being disqualified before crossing the finish line.
Paul tells us to run the race and not to quit!
Real athletes in a race run to finish the race and receive a prize at the end.
Nobody likes to run in a race and drop out.
Why would someone drop out of a race?
There could be a number of reasons.
The person may not have trained properly and just didn’t have what it took to finish.
The runner may have an injury that prevents them from running the race.
Or the runner may not have the mental focus and just quits when it gets too hard.
Or finally, the runner may be disqualified by breaking the rules.
Regardless of the reason, the runner who quits does not finish, and nor will he receive the prize at the end of the race.
In this race that we’re running, Jesus is the ONLY prize that we’re all running towards.
So here is the ultimate point and here is the goal I believe Paul is talking about…
From Max Lucado’s LifeLessons:
Some believers questioned Paul’s rights as an apostle.
Paul responded by pointing out that the rights apostles claimed were very reasonable, yet he himself didn’t claim them.
To Paul, nothing was more important than spreading the gospel, so giving up his rights was a worthwhile sacrifice.
One of our top priorities should be enabling others to understand the gospel.
Though God has given us many blessings and rights, we should be willing to give them up if it would help someone to know Christ.
You can protect your reputation or protect His.
You have a choice. . . . Jesus . . . “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7, 8).
Christ abandoned His reputation. No one in Nazareth saluted Him as the Son of God.
He did not stand out in His elementary classroom photograph, demanded no glossy page in His high-school annual.
Friends knew Him as a woodworker, not a star hanger.
His looks turned no heads; His position earned Him no credit.
In the great stoop we call Christmas, Jesus abandoned heavenly privileges and aproned earthly pains.
“He gave up his place with God and made himself nothing” (Philippians 2:7 NCV).
God hunts for those who will do likewise—[those] through whom He can deliver Christ into the world.
(From Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado)
Our culture encourages us to stand up for ourselves and demand our rights, even at the expense of others.
Yet Jesus and the New Testament writers repeatedly point to the joy we receive from humility and self-sacrifice, by our disciplining ourselves to run the race which God has set before each of us.
How does this translate into our everyday lives?
Why not give up our right to live for ourselves, but rather let us exercise our free will and discipline ourselves each day to follow Christ!
Instead of using your free time to watch a movie, why not use that time to share your faith and be a light to others.
Come join the Adventure!