“Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
At the end of chapter nine of first Corinthians, the apostle Paul describes life as a race. A race in which everyone runs in a manner of winning the prize. He encourages believers to run in such a way as to win this prize. What prize is he talking about? Is it a trophy? Medal? Plaque? Paul describes that all runners exhibit self control but that some that race or compete, compete for a prize that will fade away, but as believers we run to gain a crown that will never fade away. This crown that Paul is talking about is the crown of life, the abundance that Jesus Christ pours out onto our lives when we follow Him and do this life in a matter that brings glory to His name. Paul says that we should not run aimlessly or without purpose. We need to intentionally seek out God’s purpose for our lives each and every day. We also need extreme discipline to make sure that we are practicing what we show and tell to others. We have to train ourselves just as athletes do, so that we can continually be made into the image of Jesus Christ.
Life is such a long race, but also a short one as well. We never know how long this race truly is but we must persevere with the love of Christ to use all the time He has given us to bring others to Him and to show others the hope, purpose, peace, love, Jesus brings. This race is not easy. There are bumps and kinks in the road that try to trip us up. But as long as we keep our eyes on the prize we will persevere. As long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what comes before us, and whatever may come against us, we will make it through. Jesus will pick us up and carry us to the finish line and we will receive the ultimate prize of all, basking in the glorious and holy presence of Jesus Christ in heaven.