“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.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
When the apostle Paul wanted to communicate a truth to a certain body of believers, he drew from what he knew about them and their heritage. The early forerunner to today’s Olympic Games had its roots in Corinth, Greece and were known as the Isthmian Games. His audience was with him immediately. Possibly, you have been a runner in times past and know what it takes to train your body to go the extra distance.
Years ago, in the evening, I ran with my neighbor who was an accomplished long distance, marathon runner. When we first started running together, he would talk without any labor, as I was fighting for every breath. He slowed down his pace on purpose for me, and I appreciated it very much. In time, I found I could carry on a conversation with him while we ran, and not miss a beat…but it took time, tenacity and attention. Daily I had to run, and not give up. I had to stretch myself every time I ran and slowly, but surely I not only lost weight, but even found I could eat more and not gain weight…as long as I kept running consistently.
The training of a disciple of Christ is much like learning to run. Day in and day out, you and I must focus on the acceleration of our personal Bible study, stretch ourselves in the ministry of intercession and never minimize our need for community. Leave any of these disciplines out, and spiritual flab is sure to make itself known. You will shirk from sharing your faith, giving your talents in service, and overlook the joy of releasing your money as an act of worship. Today, choose to lace up those shoes of faith, get off the couch of indifference and do some spiritual warm-up exercises…and get in the game…to win, not just jog around to get a participant’s trophy.