Summary: Doing our best for the Lord
Striving to Win
1st Ever US Gold in Judo Kayla Harrison
Gabby Douglas Team and Individual Gold
Michael Phelps 21 medals! 17 Gold!
Our text says:
24 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. 25 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. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
If I were to ask you “what is the mission of…
“the summer Olympians?” What would you say?
(Answer) To Win.
How do you know if they are accomplishing their mission?
(Answer) Whether or not they are winning their games.
How do you know if they are winning their games?
(Answer) They keep the score.
I mean can you imagine what a game would be like if the teams just lined up and played each other going up and down the field but didn’t bother to keep the score? What would be the point? This isn’t tee ball!
How about our Christian life? What’s our mission? To win! How do we know if we’re winning? We have to keep score!
Ill.—special Olympics: it’s not all about winning, but participating. Not about being the best, but the best YOU can be. Not about getting the gold, but crossing the finish line!
If anyone was ever considered a winner in the Christian Life and in the Church, Paul would undoubtedly qualify. And so in these short four verses Paul Personally Models Three Characteristics of a Genuine Winner.
Three Characteristics of Genuine Winners
The First Characteristic of a Winner is…
#1. Winners Are Contenders
Run in such a way as to get the prize. v.24
If ever a word described the Apostle Paul, it would be Contender. He didn’t just live life, he attacked it. In Acts 14, Paul was preaching to a crowd in Lystra. Some of his enemies were able to turn to crowd against him, and they stoned him, dragged him outside the city and left him for dead. As soon as Paul came to, the Bible says "...he got up and went back into the city." He had such a burning desire to preach the gospel that even the threat of physical violence couldn’t keep him away. Talk about a Contender! No wonder Paul could say at the end of his life...
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7
There is a huge difference between contenders and pretenders.
• Concerned about Image and Impressions.
• Concerned about Authenticity and Integrity
• Settles for Mediocrity
• Strives for Excellence
• Quits in Difficulty
• Grows Through Difficulty
What Paul was trying to say is that if you really want to “win” in the Christian Life and in the Church, then you must be a contender!
Two Characteristics of Contenders
(1) Contenders Are Competitive.
Contenders are competitive. And while athletes compete against one another, as Followers of Christ, and as the Church, our competition is much different. We compete with three influences:
• Social Influences
• Satanic Influences
• Selfish Influences
Spiritual Contenders are competitors. And they have come to realize that every day of their lives is a competition for their heart. Paul called it “The Good Fight of Faith”. You are involved in a heated competition for your heart. You may feel as though you’re anything but a contender. In fact, you may feel as though you’ve fallen completely out of the race. I have good news for you! You can get up and get back in the race! With God’s help you can be a contender again. With faith in Christ, you can not only compete, but you can win this race!
Contenders are not only Competitive, but…
(2) Contenders have a goal.
Winners are Contenders who reach for the prize.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
If our goal is to win the prize and if we’re to “run to get the prize”, then wouldn’t it be nice to know what “the prize” is? What is the prize in the Christian Life? What is the reward? I dare say that most of us would say heaven. And we would be partially correct. Because heaven is part of the prize, but it’s not the prize. You want to know what the prize is?