“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (I Cor. 9:25).
Paul’s epistles have much to say about the competitive sports of his day. He uses the gymnasium and stadium, the races, the boxing and wrestling matches, to drive home vital spiritual lessons.
As he witnessed the intense enthusiasm of the masses and the grim determination of the contestants in the Greek games, he was gripped with the challenge to believers to put as much into the issues of life and death as these put into their games.
How rigidly the contestants, then as now, controlled and denied themselves! How tirelessly they trained themselves!
“Now they do it,” says the apostle, “to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one.”
In this pleasure-loving, self-indulgent age, believers are prone to forget that the Christian life is a race and that the divine Judge is watching their performance. He observes those who are running with all that is in them—and He likewise observes those who have so indulged themselves in the things of this world that they can hardly run at all.
Realize it or not, the race will soon—perhaps very soon—be over and the prizes awarded. Let each of us, therefore, ask himself: How will I fare then? Am I heeding the exhortation: “So run that ye may obtain,” or do I scarcely care whether or not I receive the approval of the One who gave His all—Himself—to save me from a just and certain doom and to bless me with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies?
May God convict us, beloved, and help us to arise to meet the challenge that faces us every day while the millions of the lost about us continue their course to Christless graves, and a confused and divided Church points them in a dozen different directions.
May He give us a burden for the lost—and the saved. May He convict us of our responsibility for their condition. May He help us to live lives of true, practical devotion to Christ, rather than mere sentimental devotion; to practice self-control and self-denial, to put our all into the race, so that when we stand before Him He may confer upon us a garland of victory that will never fade away, and with it everlasting joy that we have brought honor, rather than reproach, to His worthy name.