Summary: Part two of this series focuses on the difference between having success and having victory.
Choices – Part 2
This is part two of my series “Choices” and I’ve titled this message “Choose Victory.” In part one I shared with you an overview of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 which is our foundational Scripture. It says, “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. 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. Therefore I run thus; not with uncertainty. Thus I fight; not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) In part one I asked you to join me and make a choice to win – not just compete, but to win. I told you in part one that our abilities are tied directly to our choices. If we choose to believe that we can, we then take the necessary steps to do it. As an example I told you the story of George Dawson who studied for his GED at the age of 98. His father had instilled in him a belief that life was good regardless of what you had to contend with. He lived his life choosing to believe life was good. His life was good because he chose to believe that it was – a lesson for each of us!
This morning as we examine 1 Corinthians 9:24 more closely, I want you to consider if you’re choosing to succeed or are you choosing victory.
I. Success Vs. Victory
This morning I want to return to my analogy of running in a race. Every race when it is established has parameters and guidelines that must be adhered to in order to compete for the prize. If you’re signing up for a race, you know in advance the distance, location and prize to be obtained. No one signs up for a race without knowing this basic information. Now, if you recall from last week, I shared with you that there are Christians who are happy just being a spectator of the race or competing in the race with no expectation of winning the prize. Paul writes in verse twenty-four, “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.” Paul says that many run in the race but there will only be one winner. We should run so that we can be the winner. When it comes to our Christian race, it’s not enough to just compete - we should be winning our individual races!
I want to pause here and share something with you that we briefly discussed in Bible study this week. For years I heard and believed the following statement was in the Bible: “the race is not given to the swift but to the one that endures unto the end.” Years ago when I heard someone quote this, I believed it. It sounded Scriptural and it sounded “right.” The message was focused on not giving up – staying in the race. It was a motivating message that led many to believe that being in the race was enough – just continue hanging in there! I want you to know and understand that this statement, as given, is not in the Bible. When we understand this, our expectations concerning the race we’re individually running will change. Let me explain this statement and the truth behind the words. The first part, “The race is not given to the swift” is in the Bible and is found in Ecclesiastes 9:11. The full verse reads: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all.” When you read the verse in its entirety we find that it too is talking about winning, but it is talking about how the person who is “expected” to win does not always win. This is a sermon in and of itself. He was writing about wisdom and the uncertainty of life. Just because someone has all the talent, ability, wisdom and skill it does not guarantee that they will win their race in life. Many times the one least likely to win takes the prize. Let me continue. The second part of the statement “but to the one that endures to the end” is found in Hebrews 3:14. Paul here was talking about our not giving up in our Christian walk – finishing the race. There are several Scriptures in the New Testament that speaks to our winning if we do not give up. I am pointing this out so that you understand that the goal that God has before one is one of victory – His ultimate victory! I stress this so that you know that God’s expectation of us is not that we will just compete, but that we compete to win and that we expect to win. When we make the choice to win how we run in our race will change.