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. 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Being a preacher of the Gospel does not guarantee winning the ‘prize.’ Paul understands that even though he has preached to others, he could be disqualified and not finish this race. There are theologies of men that will struggle with this. ‘Once saved, always saved’ comes to mind. For Paul it would have been ‘Once saved, you’re in the starting blocks!’ As significant as salvation is, it is not the finish line. There is a race we are in! We run in such a way as to win that race.
Paul understood that taking your eyes off of the prize is a real danger. Taking your focus off of Jesus and running off the course – pursuing other things – will disqualify you. You will not win. So Paul is intentional with his life. He pursues a disciplined life as a disciple of Jesus. His flesh serves him and not vice versa.
I feel as though there are areas in my life where I can focus in and become more disciplined. I’ll probably make a list today. It feels like, although I’ve been running the race, I’ve been reduced to a jog. The challenging verse for me is 9:24: Run in such a way as to get the prize. Run with some passion and intensity to win! To do this takes discipline and focus.
Lord Jesus, thank You for this reminder. I want to honor You by the way I live my life. I want to leave nothing ‘out on the field,’ but instead give all that I have for Your fame and glory. Would You energize me by the power of Your Spirit? Give me lazer-like focus to be about what You’ve called me to do. And help me never to shy away from service because it is in that place where I am most like You. This day I live for You…