Run to win!
"Don't you realise that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize..."1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NLT
How can I victoriously live out my Christian walk in this world? The Apostle Paul compares the Christian walk to that of an athlete. He wants you to know that you and I are a part of a'spiritual' Olympic game. But, unlike the worldly Olympic games, your game is continuous and has eternal consequences. So what does it take to be an Olympic champion Christian? How can we 'run to win?'
In our text, Paul uses the reader's knowledge of the games to articulate five traits that are key to winning:
Paul says in verse 24 "Run to Win! "We must desire to win. For the Olympic champion Christian, there is no greater desire than to be in a close dynamic relationship with our Saviour, Jesus the Christ. Such a desire for God should compel us and propel us to run with all that we have. Unfortunately, instead of going for the gold, far too often we settle for silver or bronze or never venturing very far past the starting line. Vince Lombardi said, "The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will".
Discipline is the fuel of success.Without discipline, you will never grow in your Christian life. Paul tells us that: "25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing."1Corinthians 9:25-26 NLT. It takes hard work. And just as there are no shortcuts to peak physical condition, there are no shortcuts to peak spiritual condition.
3. Focus and commitment
All of life's activities have their ups and downs. Only those who are committed to riding the waves will succeed. Paul says: "But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, 14 I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14 NIV. Paul was focused and committed to completing his own race. He didn't give up when the going got rough; he kept the end game in mind.
The key to success in any venture is a willingness to sacrifice. To sacrifice, you pay a price. Hebrews 12:1 NIV tells us to "... throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. A champion Christian will sacrifice - there are things that he will give up, and things that he will take up.
For the Olympic Champion Christian, character is the element that melds desire, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice into one. Character for the Christian can be defined as Christlikeness. In Philippians 3:10 NIV, Paul said,"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him."Paul acknowledged that he was not yet there, but he was moving in the right direction; each day he drew closer."
I want you to look at your life now. You are running a race, the race of life; it is your race! God instructs that we should run our race in such a way as to be victorious in this life and for eternity. What is the quality of your race by God's standards? God is calling you to get in the race and 'Run to Win'!