Summary: Lessons from Paul comparing the Christian life to a race and how we must have discipline to win the race
Gold Medal Living
“Discipline of a Champion”
August 15, 2004
Intro: We have been looking at some characteristics of live a Gold Medal spiritual life. We looked at the need for determination and passion to help us reach the goal for our lives.
Today we are looking at the discipline needed in life to have an impact on those around us. Discipline and strict training are required for us to live our lives at a championship level.
The most decorated American female Olympian is swimmer Jenny Thompson. She has won 10 medals- 8 gold. In order to achieve that, she had to have incredible discipline. Jenny is not only a great athlete, but she is also a student at the Columbia University School of Medicine. Jenny has this to say about her daily schedule:
“I’d wake up in the morning with my adrenaline going. Everything I had to do was running through my head. I’d go work out, two hours, then go get a triple espresso Red Eye and head to the library and study the entire day. I’d go swim in the evening and then go back to studying all night. My day started at 7 a.m. and ended after 1 a.m. I didn’t have any social life. I barely had time to eat and go to the bathroom.”
In I Corinthians 9:24-27, the apostle Paul tells us a little about the need for discipline in our own lives. Paul was in the city of Corinth in A.D. 57 when a regional Olympic event was held. Paul uses this backdrop as the feature in this passage.
In the beginning of Chapter 9, Paul is instructing believers in the subject of how to live their lives. He has been sharing with them that how we live our life will influence how others see Jesus.
Paul states his goal in living his life in I Corinthians 9:19
“I am not bound to obey just because they pay me, yet I have become a servant to everyone so that I can bring them to Christ”
I Corinthians 9:19 (NLT)
Paul is saying that it is not necessary to live a good, disciplined life simply to impress others, but rather to lead them to Jesus. That was the goal for Paul and it is the goal for us.
Paul continues the passage and concludes with a comparison between our lives and a race.
“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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Paul uses a race as an analogy for life.
“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.”
Every person is running the race of life.
Seven times in scripture the idea of life as a race is used to convey a spiritual lesson.
Paul used the picture of a race to describe his life in the book of Acts.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I finish the race and complete the task to Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”
Acts 20:24 (NIV)
The goal of the race of our life is the declaration of God’s grace.
We must live our lives in such a way that those around us see the love and grace of Jesus. Our actions will show the message of God. Paul is calling us to live our lives so that we reach the goal.
The race of our spiritual lives will bring us closer to God if we run according to his design.
God’s design for us is to be free from the worldly distractions.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Is sin keeping you from being the runner God has called you to be?
Paul uses physical training to help paint a spiritual picture.
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training… Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” I Corinthians 9:25A,26-27(NIV)