Have you ever participated in a race or a marathon?
Perhaps you know firsthand or are at least aware of the training and dedication it takes to prepare for such an event?
Athletes spend countless hours disciplining their bodies so they can compete at high levels – waking up early, being consistent in their training day after day and eating the right foods to ensure proper nutrition. By the time someone is ready for the Olympics, they have spent years beating their body into submission so that they can perform at the highest possible level – in hopes of winning the gold medal. Of all the words that describe the athletes who push to the upper limits of all their potential, the most important would be sacrifice.
And so it is when we live for Christ – sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Paul was very familiar with the ancient Olympic games and drew a comparison between the athletes who compete in them and those of us who have faith in Jesus Christ. Our Christian life is like an Olympic race and we should prepare for it just as seriously as the athletes who prepare to compete in the games. We should be sacrificing and putting every effort into bringing our bodies into submission so that we will not be disqualified but will continue on to the finish and obtain the prize.
While the athletes in the Olympics are only competing for a perishing medal, we who are in Christ are competing for an eternal, imperishable crown.
Life is not a practice run, nor a time trial. We are not doing wind sprints or shadow boxing – we are running the Olympic race – the only one that counts.
Remember that none of us are spectators but we are all runners – don’t give up! Keep running, jogging, walking, crawling even towards the finish line. There will be times we may feel like giving up – we may even trip and fall but never give up and never turn back – only those who persevere to the finish get the reward.