Wednesday 25 February 2015

Bible Book:
1 Corinthians

“So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air ...” (v. 26)

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Wednesday 25 February 2015

Psalm: Psalm 117


Like yesterday, today's passage is part of a chapter thatdescribes the nature of Paul's life as an apostle. Here weencounter a familiar analogy, as the Christian life is equated withathletics. The way to win the prize, or reach the goal, is to"exercise self-control" (v. 25). Paul urges his hearers to get inshape!

But Paul never forgets the purpose, the reason why we are doingthis. Why should disciples exercise self-control? Why should theypersevere? These things are not an end in themselves but, as verse23 has already declared, they are done "for the sake ofthe gospel".

Of course, the stakes in the journey of life are significantlydifferent from those of an athletics contest. The Isthmian Gameswere held just outside Corinth every two years, and they were asignificant athletics competition. Winners were considered heroes,but their immediate reward at the end of a race was a wreath ofdried celery. Paul highlights the difference between transientwealth and glory and the "prize" (v. 24) of eternal life in God'skingdom. He argues that if athletes can push themselves to theirlimits for a temporary crown of vegetables, how much more we shouldstruggle for the imperishable crown!

The Christian life is one of discipline. It often requiresself-control and effort to help build up and nurture faith, notjust for our own sake, but for the sake of reaching others. Paulencourages those who have chosen to participate in this "race" (v.24) to run with determination, keeping their eyes focussed on theone they are seeking to follow.

To Ponder

  • During the times when you are struggling, or when you feellost, what helps you to focus on God?
  • What helps you to keep spiritually fit? And what particularthings may need attention and effort at this time?
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