Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]
At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’
Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize
Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.
5 things which may just help us…
Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of. When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.
Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.
Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.
Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.
Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.
Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.
A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.
How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.