Highland United Methodist is full of runners, swimmers, weight lifters, war-crafters, paint ballers, archers and even tournament fishermen. How did you feel the last time that you won at playing cards or a board game? Winning gives us great joy. Whether the winning prize is money, ribbons, trophies, or just an “atta-boy” or “atta-girl,” we work harder, and we give it our maximum effort to earn the prize.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul refers to the contest of running. To be the fastest runner, runners go through disciplined training to make themselves faster so they can cross the finish line first and win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 reads, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets 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.” Paul refers to a much more important event than runners running a race to win a prize that won’t last. He refers to a race that involves life and death. The special prize that Paul refers to in these verses is the prize of eternal life. The prize is a life with Jesus in a world that has finally been set right!
Although Paul contrasted the two different prizes, he does refer to the similarities in the effort needed to run both races. Runners train diligently for their races through “strict training.” The Christian disciplines himself, making his body his “slave,” all “for the sake of the Gospel, that [he] may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:23). As Christians, we know we can be faithful in what we do because God is within us, and he strengthens us. God calls us to give wholeheartedly in our service to him through serving others, and, to help us do that, we will begin, in a few weeks, a three-week series of sermons and daily devotionals titled: Graced by the Fruits of Our Labor.
As God’s people, we keep our focus on the all-important prize and, with God’s help, not to allow successes in this life interfere with the goal of receiving the most wonderful prize which is eternal life in a just world.
Connect, Grow, Serve,
Pastor Tom Anderson