Obtaining The Prize
by Terry Broome
In 1Cor 9:24-27, Paul alludes to the ancient Grecian games through the image of athletes running in a race, fighting as a boxer, and competing for a prize. He observes that there are principles common to both athletes and Christians. We all are in need of motivation, self-control, and exercise. These are necessary in order to “obtain” the prize.
It’s easy to see the importance of motivation in the life of the athlete if they have any desire to win the race. Different motives can make a difference in a race. Some run to win; others run for their health. In either case, Paul gives us the perspective that Christians should be most aware of: 1Cor 9:25b … “Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown” (for instance, the gold medal or excellent health); “but we an incorruptible.”
In the life of the Christian the proper motivation is likewise necessary to win. Different motives can make a big difference in whether we gain the crown of triumph or not. For instance, some are Christians to please their conscience, or to please others. Some are Christians because of the present blessings (peace of mind, fellowship). Such motives may have their place in the life of the Christian, but ultimately the successful Christian is motivated by what lies at the end of the race: An imperishable crown – 1Cor 9:25c “…but we an incorruptible.”
Paul writes of the crown of righteousness, which motivated him: 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV) “7I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
We also read of the incorruptible inheritance that awaits us – 1 Peter 1:3-4 ( KJV ) “3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,”
2 Peter 3:13-14 (KJV) “13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
Just as Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him” – Heb. 12:1-2, the Christian needs to see clearly what his or her motive is in running the race of faith. Is it “obtaining the prize” at the end? If so, then we should also take note of the other elements of winning the prize: self-control, and exercise. Successful athletes are “temperate”in all things – 1Cor 9:25a “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate (self-controlled) in all things.” Plus, there is the need for godly exercise – 1 Timothy 4:8 (KJV) “8For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
The author can be reached for comments at 256-574-2489.