Summary: winning in the race of life
Intro: probably there aren’t many people who would sit and watch coverage of an entire marathon, which is approximately 2 hours to the winner, and many hours to the last one who finishes. This past week the most famous of all marathons, the Boston marathon was run. It is always amazing to see the start of that race, it seems like a million people, and the really amazing thing is that almost all of them know they will not win the race, and the main goal for most of them is just to be in it, or to finish the 26 miles, to cross the line.
Paul encourages people in the race of life, not just to finish it, but to win. What is the attitude it takes to win in the race of life.
Running to Win
Background: Paul evidently was a sports enthusiast, my type of guy. He uses sports terminology throughout his writings to compare with the Christian life. He must have gone to some races or marathons, and he gives us some points about running to win.
· Don’t just run, don’t just be in the race—v.24-they run all—this simply means that a lot of people are like the people who enter the Boston marathon knowing they aren’t going to be a winner. Paul is saying, don’t live your life with low expectations for yourself. If you are going to get in the race, run to win.
· One receives the prize—v.24b Paul is saying, there is only one winner in a race. I don’t think he means that only one person is going to win in the game of life, but I think he is pointing out, you should never settle, you should never accept anything less than all God has for you. You should get up every morning with the goal of being the best you can possibly be for God.
· Run that ye may obtain—v.24c—so many people get detoured, discouraged or distracted in the race of life. Paul is saying, run that ye may be a winner. Run for your life, run with all your might, power and soul. Give it your best, obtain the prize. I think Paul is encouraging people, when you arrive in glory, arrive as a winner, don’t just walk in, don’t just limp in, leap into the glory of God.
· Temperate—v.25—people who want to win the prize ( go into strict training—NIV) It isn’t like the guy that wins the Boston marathon gets up one morning, never having run or trained and says, I think I’ll go out there today and win the race. If you are going to win the race, you train many years to get to the point of being a champion.
· Paul is making a comparison between the physical race and the spiritual race and gives this as his conclusion. If you want to win the spiritual race, you will have to train just as hard as those who try to win the first place ribbon. Training includes prayer, studying God’s Word, fellowship with other believers, fasting and sharing your faith. You won’t make it to heaven without making plans to live the life of a winner.
· I love verse 26—Paul isn’t bragging, he is just stating a fact, I am running to win. I am not out for a spiritual jog, I am running for the prize, I am pressing toward the mark, I am going to finish my course.
For some people running with Paul was a struggle, (John Mark) and others just had a hard time with his pace. But Paul says, you may be willing just to cross the line, you may be happy staying in the pack, but for me, I want to win.
· V.27—Paul now says, I will discipline my body so my spiritual walk will be victorious. I don’t want to do anything to get myself disqualified (castaway). I am sure Paul saw those who had once been in the race of life who had given up or turned back, but he said, I am not only going to tell you how to win, I am going to show you. Nothing can separate me from the love of God through Christ Jesus. There is a connection between your spirit man and your physical man, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, you must keep the body properly tuned--eating, sleep habits, excercise etc., so your spiritual man can operate in full power.
Close: years ago we were on vacation and my wife suggested I go bowl a few games. I said, I don’t have my bowling equipment with me, so I wouldn’t be able to bowl very good. She said, couldn’t you just use a house ball and bowl for fun. Without a blink I said, if I can’t bowl good it won’t be fun. You see in my life, I have always worked hard to be the best at any sport, any game, any competition. I am not saying I am a sore loser ( except if Lauri beats me) but I am saying, it wouldn’t be any fun playing anything if you knew you were beat before you even started. So in the race of life, don’t just run it, don’t just settle for second best, give it all you have got, and win the prize.