Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
1 Corinthians 9:24 NLT
In the few articles to come, we will be bringing this study to a close, as we take some final thoughts from our key text (1 Corinthians 9 vs. 24-10 vs. 13).
Beloved, you are in a race, just like in the Olympics and other athletic competitions. It is not a mere 100m dash, but a big time endurance race. Every race is complete with victors and those who merely ran the race without winning anything. But for this heavenly race, Paul says, “run your race to win”. That is, let victory be at the back of your mind as you are running this race.
What does this mean for us? An athlete whose mind is set on winning adopts an attitude quite different from the one who just want to run anyhow. These attitudes manifest themselves in the following ways:
A. Preparation for the race: A victory-minded athlete goes into strict training. He doesn’t joke with his training routines and disciplines. He is so bent on victory that he will drop anything or anyone who will not help him win the race. It is so appalling the way some of us believers hold on to unholy relationships, habits and conducts that will not help us in the race of God. It shows we are not victory minded. A Christian running to win will not need thousands of sermons before he will drop anything or anyone that is not helpful to him in the race.
B. Relationship with the Coach: A victory-minded athlete is careful to keep in step with his Coach. He understands that there are many things that he does not yet know that will help him in the race. Hence, he is careful to maintain his relationship with the Coach, listen to his advices, take up every discipline the Coach subjects him to, because his mind is on victory. So also will a victory-minded believer keep close to the Holy Spirit through the word of God and prayers, and also make good use of the men God had brought his way for the purpose of Discipleship. Their guidance will help him prepare adequately for the race.
C. Conduct in the race: You see, if you fall while running a race, you can always rise up and keep on going. But, if all an athlete does in a race is to be rising and falling, it is doubtful if he will win anything. Hence, a victory-minded athlete is careful to avoid anything that will bring him down or slow him in the race. His mind is set on victory, and he will never stop short of victory in the race.
Paul said, the athletes of this world are going for a perishable crown, but we are going for an imperishable crown. Hence, if they could exercise such great restrain in order to win something perishable, why can’t we. You see, we must ask God for a heart set on victory. Paul said to the Philippians, in Philippians 3:12-14,
“I don’t mean to say I am perfect. I haven’t learned all I should even yet, but I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling us up to heaven because of what Christ Jesus did for us.”
May that be our goal brethren. May we be in it to win it. May we not settle for anything less that victory. This victory is not about competing with another believer, but checking yourself against God’s best, insisting that you must be better today than you were yesterday. It means setting your heart in order to achieve all that God has planned for you. May God give hearts that are bent on victory. Amen.
PRAYERS/CONFESSION: I am an athlete, running the race of God. I refuse to be sloppy about it, or careless in my ways. My heart is bent on victory, and by the grace of God, I must win. I receive the Grace to train my heart and my soul for victory in this race. I receive the Grace to drop anything or anyone that will keep me from doing my best. I choose, from today onwards today deploy all my energies for this race, and to follow my Coach as he guides me. And by the Grace of God, I will win this race, in Jesus name. Amen.
For further reading: 2 Timothy 2 vs. 1-7; Hebrews 12 vs. 1-3; 1 Corinthians 9 vs. 24-27.