By Not Known
Mid-first century Corinth was a city of runners. Paul was at Corinth when the spring
games of 51AD were held at Isthmia which was about 10km away. Perhaps he went
to the games on a day-of?
These games required training. Athletes could not enter, let alone hope to win,
unless they had put in the many days of hard discipline and effort. Winners in the
Greek games were given a prize. All the months of training were for a wreath that
soon faded and disintegrated.
Paul uses athletic imagery to speak about the Christian life. He urges readers to
run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor 9:24).
Our prize is better than a fading wreath and better than a modern Olympic medal
whose glory is soon forgotten (1 Cor 9:25). Our prize is the crown of righteousness
which lasts forever and it is there for everyone who finishes and not just the first
to finish (2 Tim 4:8). It’s a great motivation to run the Christian race when we
know that the prize is so good and available to all.
How do we run so as to receive God’s prize? The answer lies in disciplined training
(1 Cor 9:26-27).
As we read elsewhere, physical training has its value but training in godliness has
value for this life and the one to come (1 Tim 4:7-8). Exercise routines Like Bible
reading, prayer, meeting with other Christians and such like will help build
spiritual strength, stamina and flexibility. Likewise with the disciplines that build
Christian character and make us ready and flexible in Christian service.
There is a very personal application of all this. Paul speaks of surrendering his
rights as a free Christian to serve others with the gospel of Jesus (1 Cor 9: 1-18). He
became all things to all people in order to bring them to salvation (1 Cor 9: 19-23).
This was admirable, but what about his own soul? And thus he will discipline
himself with great purposefulness in order to get God’s prize (1 Cor 9 :27).
Singapore is also a city of runners. Our streets echo to the sweaty breathing and
the rhythmic beat of shoes on pavement at dawn and dusk.
We run for fitness, weight loss or to train for a major race. But are we running
God’s race? Are we running for God’s prize? Do we discipline ourselves to make
sure that we finish well?