Summary: Using Paul as our example, this message considers the race that we as Christians must run in order to be contagiuos in our lives.
This is week 4 of our series Becoming Contagious. Today we look at ‘RUNNING A CONTAGIOUS RACE’ taken from 1 Corinthians 9:19-27.
Paul in our passage today is talking about our example, our method, our witness and the way in which we live. They way others look at us and the way we look at them.
READ 1 Cor. 8:9
HOW DO WE RUN A CONTAGIOUS RACE? HOW DO WE LOOK AT OTHERS THROUGH THE EYES OF JESUS?
I. BE CONTAGIOUS BY HAVING A SERVANT’S EYES
So many Christians are not able to be used by God to reach another because they are not prepared and/or willing to look at another’s work through the Eyes of Love that God has enabled them with!
READ VERSES 19
Rom 8:1 ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because Christ Jesus set me free.’
Notice in vs. 19 that while it was not necessary for Paul to please anyone (‘I am free’), he counted himself a ‘slave’ –(word is enslaved and means under bondage)
A. Under Bondage to 3 Types of People: READ VERSES 20-22
1. B/Cause FREE from All, Strive to Be SERVANT to All
20- Whether it be to the Jews (who spent their lives following the Jewish Covenant)
21- Or to the Gentiles (who did not have the law)
22- Or even to the Weak (the Oppressed)
Paul’s Passion for Jesus allowed him to see others through a Servant’s Eyes!
Rom 9.3 ‘for I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.’
1 Cor. 8.9 ‘be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.’
B. BE A SERVANT – FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL!
READ VS. 22b-23
1. Paul never compromised the gospel BUT the method of presenting the gospel. He adapted his approach to different groups.
What did Jesus Do?
- To Nicodemus (the Jewish Pharisee), he talked about being born again (John 3) using scripture.
- To the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4), Jesus talked about the living water. He was flexible in his method so as to reach as many as possible.
This is what Paul is saying.
2. A Christian striving to Become Contagious, works to build bridges and not walls by HAVING A CONTAGIOUS SPIRIT. One willing to look at another’s world through the Eyes of Love and Compassion – one desiring to build a relationship.
II. BE CONTAGIOUS BY BEING PREPARED!
Many writings in the NT were regarding a Christian’s Race and the Prize surrounding that Race. Paul’s example may be not what you expect! The Corinthians would have been very familiar with the Greek Olympic Games.
THE FOOT RACE
The race was held in an Olympic Stadium that had 3 Solid Stone Pillars (one at beginning, middle and at end). The race would begin at the first pillar and go through the field and to the last pillar and then the runner would turn around and return back to the first pillar.
The pillars were important to the runner because he would fix his eyes upon each pillar as a point of encouragement to push to continue along the race.
READ VS. 24
3 LESSONS FROM THE FOOTRACE
1. The RACE ITSELF (READ Vs. 24)
The word ‘race’ in the GRK is actually ‘race-course’ and represents a specific distance – in this case 606.75 ft. This was the length of the stadium. Paul is not talking here only about the finish line but the race itself and what is involved in the race.
‘all the runners run but only one gets the prize’ Did the runners drop out of the race once they saw they could not win? No Paul is saying don’t live your life with a low expectation of yourself. ‘Run in such a way as to get the prize’
A. Don’t confuse the race with SALVATION. The original word Paul chose in vs. 24 is not ‘race’ but ‘racecourse’. Racecourse means the measuring of a specific distance.
B. Paul is describing the race of winning others to Christ!
The previous section:
a. Vs. 20 ‘I became like a Jew to win the Jews’.
b. Vs. 21 ‘I became like one not having the law so as to win those’
c. Vs. 22 ‘I became weak, to win the weak’.
2. Read Verse 25a – The ATHLETE and his PREPARATION
The words ‘strict training’ illustrate one who ‘exercised self control’. Training for ten months was required under the direction of trained judges. Abstinence from wine was required and a rigid diet and a standard of habits for an athlete was maintained by requiring the athlete to live in the arena itself.