“Run in such a way as to get the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:24
The month of June brings many sure signs of summer: the sweet smell of cut grass, soft breezes, picnics, fireflies, thunderstorms—and runners. This unique breed of humanity, forced to run circles in cramped indoor quarters during the North American winter, emerges with the first hint of spring and spends the summer dashing through neighborhoods and parks.
I have nothing against runners. Some of my best friends are addicted runners. Though I have never seen a runner smiling, apparently there is something fulfilling about it. I even tried it once, waiting for that surge of ecstasy that my friends told me I would experience, only to find that the ecstasy came when I stopped running!
So, whatever you think about running, it’s important to note that the Bible often speaks of living the Christian life as if it we were running a race. Following Jesus is clearly more than a leisurely stroll in the park! And the issue is not whether you will run the race. When you became His follower, you were put in the race. The question is not will you run, but how will you run?
So, here are three keys to running well.
First, stay in shape! I like Paul’s perspective in 1 Corinthians 9:24: “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.” In other words, you need to be in it to win, and, like any race, winning requires discipline. As spiritual runners, we must discipline ourselves in the exercise and dietary habits of prayer and reading God’s Word. Drinking at the fountain of prayer and digesting the food of God’s Word gives us strength and motivation to run and win.
Secondly, obey the rules! Like all races, running to win means staying in the boundaries. Paul committed himself to living his life by God’s rules. He did not want to be “disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). As good runners, we embrace the rules and gladly submit to them.
Thirdly, run light! As Hebrews 12:1 instructs us, we are to lay aside every hindering weight and the sin that so easily besets us. What is it that distracts you and what is the sin that slows you down? Take them off and run light!
And finally, a couple more tips. Hebrews 12:1 also tells us to be willing to persevere. Our race is more than a few laps around the track—it’s a long-distance marathon. And let’s face it, this marathon can be stressful. Sometimes it’s the wind of life blowing against us—or mud kicked in our face from the runner in front of us. But whatever the case, runners that win never give up!
And keep your eyes on the finish line. Jesus is there! When you run for the honor and glory of His name, He reaches out with the victor’s crown and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
In my book, that’s worth running for!
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Would you say that you are running “aimlessly,” or are you competing for the “crown that will last forever”?
- Read Hebrews 12:1-3. What things hinder and entangle you, and how do you intend to throw them off? What does Paul say to do so that you will not “grow weary and lose heart”?
- In Paul’s parting words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, he says that he is not the only one who will be awarded by the Lord. How does that encourage you to keep running for the prize?