Beijing China has been the stage of the world observing the Olympic Games. Athletes have gathered from countries large and small to display their athletic ability and compete for the highest honor of a gold medal. We love to see our favorite athlete or team take their place to receive the highest honor after winning their event. After viewing several of these events it is amazing how I have witnessed so many outcomes determined by a fraction of a second. The difference between a gold and silver medal can have a profound impact in the life of athlete. All of us like to see our team win but few understand the price that the athletes pay to get their- the years of rigorous training and discipline. The same goes with us in the Christian arena, without the right training and discipline, victory will always be out of reach. This passage gives the formula for running our race well. The Apostle Paul encourages us how to be winners.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. ( 1 Cor.9: 24-27)
I want to share with you keys to running your race, whatever that race may be, to help you succeed in life. The first thing is to get running. In order to run the race you must first begin. So many people have a vision or a dream and they never make it past the starting blocks of a good intention. Winning starts when you dare to begin. Secondly, you must "run the race in such a way as to get the prize". You must keep moving, you must continue to take action every day. The race is not over until you cross the finish line. Many people start well, but they do not possess finishing faith. You must be willing to keep moving even when you feel like giving up. In the process of running you must also be willing to change your attitude. Winning begins with an attitude, and you cannot succeed with a negative attitude.
The Apostle Paul said that he was running not for a monetary prize but rather for a sense of satisfaction that the Lord was using him in the ministry to bring Him glory. The satisfaction that he used all of his energies, talents and gifts for the advancing of the Kingdom of God. When we run our race let us put on our faith gear and run for the sense of satisfaction that we are not striving for a prize that is temporal but an eternal prize, this gives you strength during times of discouragement. It is not a crown of riches but a crown of righteousness that we carry that all will see.
An athlete who wants to win goes into strict training. The Bible states that this athlete is "temperate" in all things. This carries the idea of inner strength. A winner does not act on impulse but is self controlled. The word 'compete' that he uses is the Greek word for agony. It points to the tremendous effort that was put forth to win. Success requires effort and there are many agonizing moments that are part of the development of the character of a winner.
Although the presence of our self-control is from the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the practice of our self-control is our responsibility (2 Peter 1:4-7). Those who have a clear cut goal and objective in life to succeed must also have strong control of their appetites and passions.
If we want to win, we must prepare. To win the race requires that we are ready. We must be in a state of constant readiness. We must be ready when God calls us to serve. We must be ready for when we cross the finish line. Life is full of unexpected events and we must be ready at a moment's notice. If you want to excel as an athlete you must go into training. The same is true of Christianity. We need spiritual workouts - Time in prayer, time in the Word, time in worship
"The secret to success in life is for a man to be ready for his time when it comes." - Benjamin Disraeli.
In the Greek games - only one received the prize. But for the Christian - the prize is available to all who run the disciplined race. The Christian should run as the winner runs.