What Is the Prize That Will Last Forever?
- Chris Swanson Contributing Writer
- 2022 23 Jun
Many have read and undoubtedly heard this Scripture countless times. It speaks of someone running a race. But we need to see the spiritual aspect of this road that we are on.
The Apostle Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 9 with a plea for self-disciple and self-denial in the Christian life. He compares himself to the athletes in the Isthmian Games, which were well known by the Corinthians. In any case, in the Christian race, all may run in order to obtain the prize.
What Is the Significance of the Eternal Prize?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 forms an analogy looking at Paul's previous opportunities to win individuals to faith in Christ or with a competitor preparing to win a prize. Both intentionally surrender things to which they are entitled.
That requires generosity and an intense way of dealing with one's own sentiments. They do this for triumph. Yet, the competitor can win just a wreath that will rapidly die. Interestingly, Paul expects to win a prize that will live for eternity.
He likewise prepares himself in this manner to abstain from being excluded prior to reaching the finish line (Hebrews 12:1).
Paul dispatches into another allegory in this passage; however, his subject is still ready to set aside individual privileges and opportunities to benefit others.
This text keeps on arguing that the Christians in Corinth ought to quit any pretense of eating meat that had been given to idols, despite the fact that they are allowed to do as such if it will cause the individuals who are more fragile in the faith to stagger (1 Corinthians 8:1-7).
In that specific situation, the readers would concur that in any race, just a single runner wins. Why take an interest in running if you are not going to attempt to win? Paul urges them to take the necessary steps to win.
His point is not that only one Christian can succeed, speaking spiritually. Or that we are in a challenge against our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Paul is alluding just to the work and commitment displayed by the competitors: that is the thing that the devotee should copy in their quest for Christ.
There is the best consolation to endure with vigor and stamina. The individuals who ran in these games were kept to a strict diet, and they put themselves through many hardships.
Undoubtedly, they practiced and prepared themselves all the time. Those who seek after the interests of their souls must battle hard with their physical desires. The body must not be let free to rule people’s lives.
Paul stresses this to the Corinthians. He sets before himself and them the risk of yielding to physical wants, spoiling the body and its desires and pangs of hunger.
Sacred fear of himself was expected to keep an apostle steadfast: how much more is it needful for our preservation.
Let us now learn from humility and caution and watch against perils, which encompass us while in the body (1 Timothy 6:12).
Winning a race requires reason and order. Paul utilized this illustration to clarify that the Christian life takes arduous work, self-denial, and overwhelming planning.
How Do We Win This Prize?
As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly prize, an eternal crown of life (2 Timothy 2:5; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:11).
The basic orders of supplication (prayer), Bible study, and worship furnish us to run with stamina and power. Do not simply watch from the sidelines; do not simply end up jogging a few laps every morning. Diligently train — your spiritual growth relies upon it (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
There are times when we need to give up something we see as good so that we do what God wants us to do. Every individual’s unique obligation decides the order and refusal he must accept.
Without an objective, discipline is only self-discipline. With the objective of satisfying God, our denial appears as though nothing compared with the eternal prize that is our own.
The purpose of partaking in a race is to win, and winning takes work. Competitors who desire to be serious should practice extraordinary discipline over themselves "in every way."
This would incorporate actual preparation. Through everything, they would maintain their emphasis on dominating the race and getting the prize: a wreath.
At the games in Corinth, it was a pine wreath put on the top of the champion like a crown. In case Paul was composing this today, he may allude to the gold medal at the Olympics.
The preparation programs for competitors in Paul's day included going without food, drink, and exotic encounters to contend at the most significant level.
Paul had called attention that they did all of this to win a wreath that would rapidly die. Paul considers himself to be contending to win souls for Christ and to get an everlasting acknowledgment for that work. Such a "crown" would be undeniably more significant.
Paul turns the focus on his own preparation for this prize. He demands that he does not run erratically. His work is exceptionally deliberate. Then he incorporates one more typical rivalry of the day: boxing.
Paul says that he does not prepare so he can pound the air. Fighters extensively use "individualized sparring" as a preparation instrument, where they duck and strike against an envisioned adversary.
That is a preparation device, nonetheless, not the ultimate objective of one's preparation. Paul intends to win the battle, to land some genuine blows on his rival. He disciplines himself for an actual contest.
Paul's obligation to put aside his privileges and freedoms was not a simple exercise. He is vying for acknowledgment from Christ for how well he battled to win individuals to trust in Jesus.
He is living this way deliberately. This is with regards to the primary subject of his allegory: that Christians ought to be focused on trust, similar to a committed competitor to their game.
No, I strike a blow to 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 9:27).
What Does This Mean?
When Paul said he might be pronounced ill-suited and ordered to stand to the side, he did not imply that he could lose his salvation, yet that he could lose his benefit of educating others regarding Christ.
It is not difficult to advise others how to live and afterward not accept our own advice. We should be mindful of trying to do what we say others should be doing. Practice what we preach.
He was not afraid of losing his salvation but of losing his crown for failing to glorify God. Paul was looking at the judgment seat of Christ.
That is when rewards will be given for our service (the race). Paul states he is on the racetrack of life so that he can obtain a reward.
Every Christian should work for a reward, not salvation, which is a free gift. If we want a prize, then we should be out there “running the race” so that we may obtain that prize from our Lord, whom we glorify with our lives (2 Corinthians 13:5).
For further reading:
Why Do We Look Up to Christian Athletes?
Why Do We Need to Put God First in Our Lives?
How Are the Body, Soul, and Spirit Connected?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Seng kui Lim
Chris Swanson answered the call into the ministry over 20 years ago. He has served as a Sunday School teacher, a youth director along with his wife, a music director, an associate pastor, and an interim pastor. He is a retired Navy Chief Hospital Corpsman with over 30 years of combined active and reserve service. You can check out his work here.