“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares the Christian life to running a race. Paul often uses examples from sports to teach about living as a Christian. Lessons we learn in playing sports can help us live better lives as God’s people.
Competition Most sports involve two people or two teams competing against one another to win a game. Each team will try hard to win. Paul tells us to live so that we might get our eternal reward. Some people, when they compete, do not really care and do not give much effort. But if we want to go to heaven, we must give our best effort. Satan is giving his best effort to win so we must fight even harder. We have God on our side to help us but He expects us to do what is good, resist temptation, and help other people learn about Him.
Rules Every sport has rules that must be followed. If you break the rules you will get penalized. If you break enough rules, you will lose the game. God has rules to follow in life. If we break His rules, He will punish us. If we ignore His rules completely, we will not get heaven as a reward. Some people think that they can make up rules or ignore some of God’s rules. However, God says that we will be judged by what He has revealed, so we must play by His rules.
Training Before a person enters into a competition, he often has trained for many hours to prepare for the event. He spends time learning what to do. He practices hard so he will not be tired when he has to compete. He eats good food so he will have the energy to compete well. He also prepares his mind for the event. Christians also train every day. Our spiritual food is the word of God. We do not put bad things in our mind from TV, movies, books, or video games so we can think the way we should. We read God’s word and learn how to use it, just as a person would learn to use a sword. We ask ourselves what God would want us to do in certain situations so we exercise our mind to think godly. These things help us train for opportunities to do good or to resist temptation when we fight Satan.
Prize God has promised His people a home in heaven when they die. Paul says we must prepare ourselves and try hard so that we will be able to go to heaven. Keep heaven in your mind so you will not be tempted to give up.