“So run, that ye may obtain” 1 Corinthians.9:24.
Many have spent the last two weeks glued to their TV sets watching the Olympic games in Japan. The apostle Paul was familiar with the games of his day. But he was not just a passive observer. He used what he saw to present some practical truth to his hearers.
In this illustration, he likens the Christian life to a race. Elsewhere he presents Jesus as the starting line and the finishing point and encourages his listeners to “lay aside every weight” [Hebrews 12:1] so that they may finish their course with joy. Here he gives further guidance as to how the race should be run.
In an earthly race, there may be many competitors, but only one winner. Often athletes, while they would like to win, are content just to place well. In other words, they have not really put theirs all into the task of winning. Paul warns the Christian to serve Christ with such dedication that the “Well done” from the Lord’s lips is primary.
The one who will thus succeed must be “temperate in all things” [v25]. All his energies will be brought into subjection to the one great aim of serving and exalting Christ. He will not run the race uncertainly. He will start well, and his eye will be on the finish line. People will know he is an out-and-out Christian. He will finish well.
In the battle for truth, he will not be “as one that beateth the air” [v26] – all action but with little forward movement. The true athlete has an economy and efficiency of movement so that all his power is channelled towards winning the race. May God help us not to spin our wheels and beat the air, producing lots of noise and action, but at the end of the day achieving little for the Lord.