“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs,

but only one person gets the prize?” 

1 Cor. 9:24a (NLT)

Like many of you, I’ve been enjoying the Sochi Winter Olympics. I love to watch the back stories on the athletes competing. Their discipline in training and passion for their sport is inspiring. It’s made me wonder how different our faith would be if we treated it as these athletes do their sport. The Apostle Paul made the same comparison with the Greek Olympic Games in his day. In fact, he referred to the judgment seat of Christ as the “bema” seat in 2 Corinthians 5:10. The “bema” seat in Greek was the place where the awards were given out to the winners of the annual Olympic Games. It must have impacted him personally. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 he said, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” His motivation in the race that God had marked out for him to run was to win. In verse 24, Paul challenges us with what motivated him, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!” If you want to win your race, the Bible offers some valuable tips you may want to look up:

  • Train with discipline. (1 Corinthians 9:25 NLT)
  • “Run with purpose in every step.”  (1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT)
  • “Run with endurance …”  (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)
  • “Keep your eyes on Jesus.”  (Hebrews 12:2a NLT)
  • Finish your race. (Philippians 3:14 NLT)

Why put forth such an effort? “(Athletes) do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT). In Philippians 3:14, the Bible calls it “… the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” This is the reward offered every Christ follower for faithful service. We’re saved by grace and rewarded for works of service. God has set before each of us a race to run. Run to win!