Summary: Oftentimes, when we see the road ahead getting rough, we want to give up and quit. God never promised us a road of roses, but he did promise us a way to victory.
When we are told that we must finish the race, we get excited and push harder. However, when the road gets rough, we lose encouragement. We see the potholes and the winding road and want to give up. I can relate.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 shouts it plain and clear. When we come to the knowledge of God, we are immediately put into a race. At first, the race seems easy. Things are going great. Everything is going wonderfully for us. Then, tragedy strikes.
The road gets bumpy and we lose some faith. We think God has abandoned us and we slip back a little. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says this: "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible."
Only people who are seeking a corruptible crown will give up. What is the corruptible crown? Recognition from man. These people want a pat on the back from their fellow man. They don't get it, so they give up. Only those seeking the incorruptible crown will move forward in the race.
The incorruptible crown represents the recognition of God. They aren't seeking recognition and awards from men, they only want God to recognize their struggle. They get a blessing from God for endurance and they move forward.
However, another snag comes along and slows us down. After the first bump in the road, we have gained more faith that God will see us through. Though, this time the trial lasts a bit longer. Some will see this for what it is; a test. They will pray and wait for deliverance.
Sadly, some fall away. For them, the road was way too bumpy and they go back to the starting line and give up. They go back to a sinful life and never look back. You hear about these few. They say, "I was a Christian once, but I couldn't live a holy life." The world cheers them on and that is the end of their race. They received their corruptible crown.
Still, there are others who see the light at the end of the tunnel and wait for the victory. These move even further forward into the race. They have learned that the road will not always be easy, but GOD WILL SEE THEM THROUGH!. They rejoice and move toward the finish line.
1 Corinthians 26-27 gives us more instruction. "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
Paul was letting us know that even he had problems and his road was hard to run on just like ours is now. But Paul fought. He fought for the incorruptible crown that God promised all of us. He knew he wasn't fighting a losing battle. He saw VICTORY at the end of the tunnel. So he fought for God's promise.
One thing that many do not preach is one of the most important parts of this scripture. Like us, Paul was scared that he would one day face God and be called a "castaway." This is always in the back of our mind. "What is I get there before God on Judgement day and find out I am a castaway." "What if I had some sort of snag and ignored it and didn't learn from my mistake?"
We all can relate to Paul. That is why it is important to heed to the warnings and learn from our mistakes. God allows these snags to make us stronger. If we were never tested and tried, we would never grow. It seems Paul had the right attitude: "I will fight to finish my race."
The Devil would love for nothing more than for you to see the road ahead and give up. That is why we pray for strength. Without HIS strength, we won't get very far at all. We ought to pray for HIS strength and HIS guidance. He will get us through, we have to simply believe he will get us there.
Think of a little baby. The baby cries and cries. He/She alone can do nothing about their situation. The Father hears our cries and comes to help us out. There is no problem too big for God. God created the heavens and the earth and all within. A simple financial crisis is nothing to him. He can fix it. All we have to do is believe and ask.
Look off into the distance and see your victory. That is what Paul did. He didn't thrive on his situation, he thrived on the victory. Victory will come. Simply believe that it is there. Proclaim victory in JESUS name! It is there, all you have to do is grab it.
AMEN and AMEN