Thursday, December 1, 2011
"THE RACE FOR THE CROWN"
Good Evening to All!
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. (25) 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. (26) Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. (27) But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
I read something in my Bible tonight and I would like to share it with you. It is called
The Race for the Crown.
What does it take to be a champion in a given sport? For one, it is necessary to have a dedication to succeed no matter what the cost. A passion for the game is certainly essential, as is a single-minded determination to accomplish the task at hand. A willingness to train incessantly is also required. And a burning desire for the trophy or prize awarded to the one who wins is an absolute must.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul drew a direct comparison between the Christian life and an athletic competition. This comparison would have had immediate resonance with Paul's Corinthian readers. Corinth was the site of the Isthmian games, a great athletic festival that was very similar to the Olympic games. Contestants in the Isthmian games endured ten months of mandatory training. Anyone who failed to complete this training was barred from competing in the games. The highlight of the Isthmian games was a great endurance race. It was this race that Paul used as an illustration to depict the faithful Christian life.
In the Isthmian games, several athletes competed for one prize, there could be only one winner. In contrast, the Christian life offers the opportunity for many people to be winners. The winner of the Isthmian games received a pine wreath crown. Those who faithfully complete the Christian life, on the other hand, will receive an imperishable crown.
Paul illustrates the "champion" mindset required to faithfully complete the Christian life with his statements, "I run thus: not with uncertainty" and "Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air" (9:26). Paul was not an aimless competitor. He had a clearly defined goal. Life an athlete preparing for a race or a boxing match, Paul knew that he had to discipline his body; he had to force himself to maintain the strenuous, consistent practice needed for success.
The race that Paul prepared himself for, the race that all Christians need to prepare themselves for, was the calling of God. Paul taught that Christians are rewarded for the calling that God gives them. Paul had an apostolic ministry for which he sacrificed all things. He knew that if he was faithful to his calling he would receive a reward from the Lord for his service (4:2). Paul also knew that if he ignored or treated lightly his mission he would not receive from God the victor's crown for service. Having seen some of his close friends for sake their calling (see 2 Tim. 4:10), Paul recognized that the loss of the victor's crown was a very real possibility for any believer, regardless of his or her standing in the Christian community. The apostle's overwhelming passion was to fulfill his ministry at all costs, to stay faithful to the "fight" (9:26) to the very end. In Paul's last letter, written shortly before his death, we discover that he accomplished his goal (see 2 Tim 5:6-8).
Paul's spiritual training was the very best available. Yet he did not assume that he would automatically persevere to the end of the race. He continued to discipline himself, to fight, and follow his calling form God. In doing so, Paul provided an ideal model for all Christians striving to become champions.
Now, after reading this account of Paul's apostolic journey, and how seriously he and I'm sure the other disciples took their ministry, I can't help but realize that by the examples set by them, we definitely fall short as far as running our race for the most part.
I'm speaking about myself as much as anyone. I mean let's tell it like it is. I don't make it a practice to stop what I am doing once a day let alone 3 times (as Daniel did) to pray and I don't fast as often as I should. Those are only two of the areas which I fall short in and there are several more.
We use the "excuse" about how busy we are that we don't have time, but don't you think they were as busy if not more so back then? After all, they didn't have "banker's hours", or at least I wouldn't think so. They had full lives just like we do. It's just that they had their priorities straight. They understood how important God was to their lives, just as WE SHOULD.
We have been hearing that Jesus is coming back for a VERY LONG TIME, and some may have given up, or even begun to think it's untrue, but I'm telling you God's Word does not lie and it say's He's coming back. We must look at it from the stand point that if this has been told for years and years that it's getting closer and closer every year. Therefore, we are on the brink of His return. Our race is nearly run.
Let me ask you this. How are you doing in your race? Remember. in this race there are only winners and losers, NO placers. There is no second or third place.
I hope you are running this race to win it. Of course I don't know what it's going to be like up there other than what it is going to look like according to the Bible, and that we will be standing around God's throne singing and praising Him, but I am truly hoping I will get to meet at least some of y'all when we get up there. That is if my blog lasts as long as I do! LOL!
Good Night To All and May God Bless