Better than a Gold Medal
by Kelly Givens, Editor at Salem Web Network
“Do you not know that in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” --1 Corinthians 9:23-27.
Although I’m not typically a sports enthusiast, every four years I become one as I tune into the Olympics. If you’ve ever watched the Olympics, you’ve probably found yourself in awe of the skill and determination these athletes have. Their discipline and commitment to their sport is undeniable and often inspiring. So it’s no surprise that Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, uses the analogy of an athlete to help his readers understand the determination and commitment the Christian life takes.
First, Paul notes that the runners in the games go into strict training. Similarly, as Christians we must be “trained” in our faith. We do this through spiritual disciplines, time with other believers in worship and accountability, as well as time alone in prayer and meditation. As the author of Hebrews says, we must ‘throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The Christian life takes discipline and diligence.
After explaining how we are similar to Olympians, Paul draws a sharp distinction when it comes to our ultimate goal. In the Olympics, the athlete is often competing in one game; he has one shot at running the race and one chance to get the gold. Christians, however, are running a life-long race. Every day we must be determined and focused in order to overcome the obstacles to our faith.
As far as the “prize” we run for: 1 Peter reminds us that our faith is of “greater worth than gold.” Our ultimate prize is not a medal to wear around our necks; it’s eternal life. So we should run with all our strength and power, knowing we will persevere through God’s grace, all the while looking forward to the day when we receive our prize- one that is way better than a gold medal.
Intersecting Faith and Life: Are you giving your life as God’s child everything you’ve got, or are you lacking the dedication and discipline it takes to “run the race marked out for us?” The good news is that God can supply all the strength you need. So take some time this week and reflect on areas of your faith that could use some Olympic-sized training, then ask God to come into that part of your life and work on your behalf. God is the giver of good gifts- He will strengthen and equip you for this life-long race of faith!
1 Timothy 6:12
1 Peter 1:3-7