While watching the Olympics, I can’t help but think about the Apostle Paul. It’s obvious in his writings he was a big sports fan. He uses a number of sports metaphors in while writing God’s inspired Word. As a big sports fan that excites me even more, because that means God is a sports fan, too. :-)
Paul writes about running a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He even mixes in a boxing analogy. In these verses, he describes what it takes to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ. As we see, it’s not a process for lazy people. It takes hard work, commitment, and dedication, just like Olympic athletes.
Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Like Olympians, we have to train. It's good to do physical training, but I'm referring to spiritual training - reading the Bible, praying, worshipping, telling others about Jesus, etc. This involves self-control, running with a purpose, and discipline. The big difference is Olympians compete for a perishable award. Winning Gold, Silver or Bronze medals is an awesome accomplishment. Those athletes work hard and deserve it. I think being good enough to just compete in the Olympics Is an incredible accomplishment, even if you finish last in your event.
Our race is for an imperishable award. It’s for eternity. Are we going to live for Jesus and inherit eternal life with Him, or choose not to and spend eternity in Hell, which is eternal separation from God? Like the Olympians, it’s our choice if we are going to be dedicated and committed to win our race or kick back and watch others do it?
This is too important of a race. We can’t be lazy. We must strive each and every day to live for Jesus and tell others about Him. It’s going to take endurance, as Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
It is more than worth it to dedicate and commit our lives, all of our lives, to Jesus. He thought we were all worth it. So much so, He willingly died a brutal death for us. He took our penalty for our sins. Then he came back to life to give us the ultimate victory. Now it’s up to us if we will receive it.
If you haven’t, I implore you to receive Jesus today. Call out to Him. Ask Him to forgive you. Repent, which means turn from sinful ways and turn to Jesus. Ask Him to help you to overcome. I know that’s the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I’m far from perfect, but I’m striving every day to be more like Jesus.
Come on. Let’s do this. Let’s run this race and claim the ultimate Gold Medal.