Running the Christian Race
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 EMTV
(24) Do you not know that those running in a stadium all run, but one receives the prize? So run, in order that you may win.
(25) And everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. Now they compete in order that they may receive a perishable crown, but we compete for an imperishable crown.
The comparison of the Christian life to an athlete’s life is centered on the focus, dedication and perseverance that is needed in both endeavors. Now, while the athlete relies on sheer will-power to achieve his or her goals, the Christian bends his or her will to surrendering self to God, which allows the Christian to tap into a power source that can overcome sin and temptation.
We must still use our willpower, because it is our God-given resource for freedom of choice, but rather than attempting to keep the law in our own strength, we can instead keep the law through the power of Jesus.
“Daniel purposed in his heart…” (Daniel 1:8). This is a very powerful text that shows how we must use the will.
Just as the star athlete chooses voluntarily to forgo things that do not help him attain his ultimate goal, and just as he focuses on exercise, rest and diet to put him in the best position to win the big trophy, so should the Christian put aside everything that will not strengthen, edify, or enrich his relationship with God.
The two advantages that the Christian has over the athlete is that only one athlete in any given sport may win the prize in a given year, the athlete has only human assistance in the form of trainers and coaches. Every Christian, however, has the opportunity to be a winner in God (because the Christian is not competing with other Christians), and in addition to human assistance from pastors, teachers and other believers, the Christian has access to the power of Jesus Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit. With Jesus, there is no losing for the Christian, but without Jesus, there is no victory.
And we must strive each day to hold on to Jesus, because this is the only path to true victory. This is where daily prayer and Bible study come in. And also avoiding distractions and diversions.
Let us be at least as dedicated in our daily Christian walk as the superstar athletes are in their endeavors for their annual championship trophies.