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So as to Get the Prize

So as to Get the Prize

Words of Faith 6-22-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 9

   [24] 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. [25] 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. [26] Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. [27] 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.

 

          Paul had developed a unique and powerful strategy for reaching the world. He was willing to mix with any group if there was a chance of winning them to Jesus. He was willing to set aside some cultural practices and take on others if it would serve to build a bridge for sharing the Gospel. But don't think for a minute that this was an easy strategy. It required training and discipline like that of a top athlete.

         Paul gave the Corinthian believers a vivid image to work with. The city of Corinth was host to the Isthmian Games every two year, which were second in prominence only to the ancient Olympics. They were very familiar with the sort of training and preparation required to excel in the sporting world.

         Paul used this image to demonstrate how his personal journey in ministry required careful discipline. Paul's life required the strict training of an athlete who strives to become supreme in his field. To that end Paul willingly gave up certain privileges which might otherwise be his to enjoy so that he could win the prize.

         The prize for Paul was not like the temporary crown bestowed by men in the biennial games near Corinth. The "crown" was the eternal crown bestowed by Christ. Paul's crown would be the consummation of the reward he partially enjoyed, the opportunity to glory before Christ in those he had been able to win.

         Paul's strategy of becoming "all things to all men" could have been construed as the aimless capitulation of an unprincipled man, but it was just the opposite. In the imagery of the sporting contest, every move that Paul made in the course of his race was calculated to further his pursuit of the prize. Every blow struck was meant to land squarely on his opponent and send him reeling from the contest. In order to achieve this, Paul would not let his body master him. He would sometimes deny his body for a greater good.

         Paul was competing well himself and had called many to join him but that did not guarantee him a victorious finish. It is interesting that Paul suggested the possibility that even he could be disqualified for the prize. Paul was not addressing the issue of salvation. It was the prize that was at stake. He seemed concerned with continuance in the race.

       Like the brother who had indulged in immorality, Paul's life or ministry could be cut short by the disciplinary disapproval of God. Paul knew that God had disciplined in the past and he assumed that the same discipline was taking place in the present and immediate future.

       Paul was concerned that some might not be able to say with him one day, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race" (2 Tim. 4:7). Paul's longing for the believers at Corinth was that they take the prize. He did not want them to be cut off in the midst of the contest by the disciplinary action of God.

       So how is your race going? Certainly we are called to a different race than Paul was. But he gives us a tremendous example in regard to the manner that we run the race that is set before us.

     Is the Lord calling you to strict training? More careful competition? Is the Lord calling you away from aimless living or activities that merely "'beat the air"? Is the Lord calling you to more careful discipline so that you do not find yourself disqualified for the prize?

 

           Father God, I want to run the race set before me by Your design. Show me how to train. Show me how to be disciplined. Show me the strategies You desire. Make my efforts meaningful. In Jesus' Name.