1 Corinthians 9: 24-27: 24 Don't you know that those who run in the stadium all run, but only one wins the prize? Run in such a way that you get it. Everyone who fights refrains from everything; they, indeed, to receive a corruptible crown, but we, an incorruptible. So, in this way I fight, not as one who strikes the air, but rather strikes my body, and I put it in bondage, lest, having been a herald for others, I myself come to be eliminated.
What should be the goals of the Christian athlete?
- Running to win (V. 24)
- Live disciplined (V. 25)
- Have a specific destination (V. 26)
- Fight the battle objectively (V. 26)
- Be an example in service (V. 27)
To whom is the Apostle comparing here?
What is its distinguishing feature?
Where did Pablo run and with whom did he fight?
1. It is compared with:
- Athletes dedicated to running: "I run this way."
- The boxers or boxers: "in this way I fight."
The International Version says “Everyone who competes in the Olympic games imposes severe training on himself, they do it to receive a laurel wreath that will finally wither; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. "
2. The Latin American version says: So I run, knowing where I am going. I hit, not in a vacuum. I punish my body and submit it, lest, having preached to others, it comes to be eliminated. "
We could say that here was the success of Paul's ministry:
- He had a clear and defined objective.
"I run, not as adventurous" "not as blind" or "aimlessly." On another occasion he said: "I endeavored to preach the gospel not where Christ had already been named". All his travels were for this purpose.
- He adopted an iron discipline.
"I hit my body", "I force my body to serve me." We could say that all competition is painful. The good sportsman knows well that without pain he will not have the prize. Those who succeed must endure suffering to incredible limits, forcing their legs to keep running even when they can't take it anymore.
- Third, he was successful because he was afraid of being eliminated.
"Lest after having proclaimed others, I myself be reproved", "eliminated", "disqualified". For Paul there was no such thing as "sure victory." He knew he had to fight every day because he could lose the prize. After so much work, persecution, sleeplessness, suffering and concern for the church to prosper, could it be eliminated? Yes. That's what the text says.
1 Corinthians 9: 24-27, teaches us that the important thing is not simply to participate, but to participate and win.
When a race is held, of whatever type, there is a sports slogan that should not be forgotten, and that is "The important thing is not to win, but to participate" and with this one must start the race and even if he does not win, be happy because he has participated.
It is often believed that the same thing happens in faith, that man should try hard enough, walking or running through this life, remembering that the important thing is to participate. In today's text, Paul tells us that this is not the case. Verse 24 reminds believers that there is a prize and recommends: "Run, in such a way that you get it." It seems unsportsmanlike for the believer to be recommended to run to win, but in that sense it is.
We are not talking here about salvation, which is naturally free and no one can take away from us, but about a reward that we will receive according to our behavior here on earth, a reward for our way of living the faith that one day we experience.
In this sense we must be ambitious, and run in such a way that we get the prize. Be so consistent in our faith, in this life, that Christ places us on his right along with the lambs who were faithful and who will receive their reward.
As in any race, you need preparation. Someone not prepared cannot undertake a career. Techniques are needed so that our running is profitable, and above all a lot of perseverance, so that they are not specific efforts that do not lead to anything, but a constant work that will take us to the goal, victorious. Do you want to win the race? Pay attention to the advice that God gives us.
I. To win you need training.
Paul is using an illustration that the Corinthians know well, sports. After the Olympic games, the Isthmian games held in Corinth every three years followed in importance, you could see how the athletes were preparing for these games, ten months before the games all the participants met to begin their training there. You could see how they got up at dawn to be able to perform their exercises, how they abstained from eating some things with their special diets, how they did not participate in many activities, so that when the days of the games arrived they would be in optimal conditions to participate.
It's not that weird, because we can see that today they continue to do so. Athletes follow a strict diet that they should not skip to be in shape, they sacrifice many days to train, they do not attend certain parties to get enough sleep, they abstain from all this because they want to get the prize.
The Greeks had a training that began when they were seven years old, when the children began to go to school, they studied basic subjects such as reading, writing, mathematics, music, poetry, dance, they learned to play a musical instrument and in parallel, they had a hard time physical training, wrestling, boxing, racing, javelin throw and discus. They were the basic subjects.
At the age of sixteen, the studies of literature, philosophy and politics were added. A tough workout, leaving many things aside, to get a pine crown.
The believer also participates in a race, and cannot face it without good training. There are a few things you should refrain from; not because they are bad, but because they hinder and hinder my career. Paul himself reminds the Corinthians of this in 1 Corinthians 6:12.
It is something very important for us to reach the goal, victorious, to do things out of self-belief. He who trains for a sport does not hurt too much, abstaining from certain things, because he thinks about the victory that he can achieve through it, he abstains because he is convinced, otherwise, he would not do it. Because he knows that his effort will lead him to achieve something that is better and that he longs for.
The Christian who knows how to get rid of the things that hinder his career, reaches the goal with the right to a prize. A Christian who practices abstinence in public and then alone gorges himself on harmful things, gets tired and does not reach the goal.
Many fail because although they show a face, then alone they do not comply and perhaps our first goal is to be convinced that what we do is rewarded and that we want to do it. No training will go far if the person doing it is not fully convinced.
The Greeks used to run in the stadium completely naked, because they wanted to get rid of literally everything that could hinder them in the race. They were not ashamed, because they knew what it meant to be able to run without any impediment.
In our training we must also learn to get rid of those things that hinder our career, not by mandate, but by conviction by understanding what we are doing. Any reward in this world will end up being corruptible, whatever we put in our way that makes our career difficult, no matter how much it attracts us, one day it will end.
However, we do not have measures to understand the greatness of what awaits us, something incorruptible, something that God himself will give us, and that we must long for, being faithful to God at all times.
II. To win you need certain techniques
After training there is something that is also essential. It is not enough for the runner to have prepared well, to train his body to push it to the limit, and to try his best, now you have to learn the technique.
I once saw a report of a group of people who had developed a computer program capable of correcting the technique of runners. They applied it to a good runner who already had good technique, they recorded his running form and entered it into the computer, the result was that he could gain a little more than a second by correcting a small turn of the right foot, which made him lose a few thousandths of a second in each stride. With a little effort he managed to correct it, and effectively won a second and a half, which made him break the record for his country.
The technique of the one who runs the race of faith is important, it is not enough to prepare well, and just start running, because it will go very fast, but it will not get anywhere. There are several types of race, which do not lead to the goal:
- There is the one who from the beginning wants to run a lot.
He is the one who wants to participate in everything, who complains that "here we do nothing", who is enthusiastic about any change, is the one who runs a lot at the beginning, expending all his strength, and then is exhausted.
You have to start slowly, warm up your muscles, I can't expect to change everything in my life from one day to the next. Customs, habits, motivations must be changed little by little, so that what you do last. If I intend to do it all at once, he will end up disappointed, sitting in the church pew, wondering "what the hell am I doing here."
- Then there is the one who has a lot of spirits and a lot of strength, but is not running in the right direction.
This usually happens to those who change their ideas very often, today, he is tremendously fundamentalist, tomorrow he is liberal, past staunch Lutheran, and the other Pentecostal. People who are like weather vanes who spend their time on things that are not essential, literally "people who beat around the bush."
Have you seen someone run in a stadium that instead of following their marked path, crosses the grass, then climbs onto the stands, jumps down, goes out of a lap outside the stadium between crossing the finish line and pretends to have won because they have won. made more difficult. This athlete did not know what was required of him.
This is how the believer is in his own way, improvising, expending a lot of energy, but many times it is a stumbling block, mainly for himself. I know people who buy a device of any kind, take it out of its packaging, and throw away the box with the instructions, because “they are all the same” and they cannot get the most out of their purchase. Then he complains about the manufacturer, who sold him everything, because he can't make it work, and all because he didn't read the instructions.
The technique for running the race of faith is to keep up (verse 26). The race in front of us is long, but we will not benefit if we do not study the correct technique to run in it. It is not worth it, to run at random, or to hit the air. And there is no more unpleasant feeling than spending your life doing things that are later useless. They resemble those prophet who in Israel are rebuked because they did things, many things, but God had not commanded them, Jer. 14:14.
III. To win you need constancy
There is a correct way to face this race, and it is as verse 27 tells us. The secret of every good runner is in the constancy of everything he does both in his training and during the race.
It is something essential in the life of the believer, a constancy in the things he does, both in the daily reading of the Bible and in prayer, such as communion with the other brothers in all the services of the week, constancy.
It is often said that the conflicts of the believer begin in his room, in his privacy, in the lack of constancy. Paul was afraid of losing the crown, not the eternal salvation that we receive by God's grace. Pablo did not want to lose his prize, the one he would receive for his life. I wanted to win the race.
This is the secret of an award-winning life, perseverance. When we see beautiful things, we are struck by those that have been formed by small things, and with great patience and perseverance. Who has not been amazed when he has seen a finished puzzle of 20,000 pieces, or a work of labor, like the one that usually exists in Chinese restaurants where complicated landscapes are represented in huge murals all sewn thread after thread.
Perhaps you think that it is more worth doing great things, enormous works that last, but the most beautiful are those made with small elements, and with a daily constancy.
By the end of his days, Paul's fear had subsided. It says in 2 Timothy 4: 7-8. God wants to help us to be constant in our race and to reach the goal victorious, and we can say with Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
Written by Pastor Isaú Orellana