Run to Win

As we begin this new year, be thankful for life and let's consider how we ought to live.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run,
but only one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may win.
1 Cor 9:24
How shall we run that we may win? The subsequent verses give us the answer. We are to run ...
  1. with self-discipline (v 25)

    And everyone who competes in the games
    exercises self-control in all things.
    1 Cor 9:25a
    Athletic events called the Isthmian games were once held at Corinth. The athletes went into strict training to compete in the races. Every athlete knows the need to take a proper diet and to abstain unhealthy foods and habits if he were to have any chance of winning.

    For reflection:

    • What would constitute a proper diet for us in the spiritual race?

    • What are some unhealthy foods and habits that we need to give up?
    ... let us lay aside every encumbrance,
    and the sin which so easily entangles us,
    and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
    Heb 12:1
    To run to win, we have to lay aside

    • every encumbrance ... this means, anything that slows us down

    • the sin ... in the context (see Heb 11), this refers to the sin of unbelief. This sin will entangle us to the point of immobilizing us.

      In the corporate world, results and success often seem to be dependent upon the amount of effort we put in. This may cause us to forget God and instead of trusting the Almighty and Sovereign God, we depend upon ourselves for the results.

    They then do it to receive a perishable wreath,
    but we an imperishable.
    1 Cor 9:25b
    If athletes in the Isthmian games disciplined themselves for the goal of winning a perishable wreath then shouldn’t we do much more for an imperishable crown?

  2. with purpose (v 26)

    Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim;
    I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
    1 Cor 9:26
    With the goal of winning the imperishable crown, Paul did things with purpose ... all calculated to win the race. Like Paul, we need to order our lives and plan activities towards spiritual goals.

    Some Christians are of the view that if we truly trust God then all we have to do is pray ... and wait ... virtually doing nothing and waiting for God to work! Faith and planning are not contradictory. There is a place for faith and a place for works (e.g., planning and implementing) in the Christian life. You may want to look up Prov 3:5-6; 16:9 and 19:21 to put planning in the right perspective.

    I believe that we ought to pray ... as God is the only One who gives the results; we should also plan and work our plans ... as God has chosen to work through us; we must be prepared to be part of the answer to our own prayers.

    For reflection:

    • What are some goals that you would like to trust God to achieve?

    • What are your plans (i.e., activities) to achieve these goals?
    but I buffet my body and make it my slave,
    lest possibly, after I have preached to others,
    I myself should be disqualified.
    1 Cor 9:27
    Paul exercised self-control over his flesh ... realising that he must be on guard and battle against temptation ... afraid that he would lose his reward.
May the LORD grant us a disciplined and purposeful year. Run to win the race that is set before us.

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Alan's Gleanings | Copyright © 2005 by Alan S.L. Wong