“Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.”
~1 Corinthians 9:24 (NRSV)
As Christians, we run to receive a prize which we have already won—our salvation that was won, and is continually so, by grace through faith.
So, why would we need to run in a race where only one would receive the prize?
The short passage of 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 is motivating us not to be in competition against others, as if heaven were a place only for one “winner,” but to be in competition with ourselves—by the moral portions of self-control for the Gospel’s sake.
Living Life In Live Time
It may be so clichéd it loses its impact, but really life is no dress rehearsal, though some people have referred to it as a dress rehearsal for heaven—which it may very well be; that life is about perfecting our imperfect characters, here while we can.
Life is real and we bypass so many opportunities to be obedient when we lack self-control.
The Apostle Paul’s only goal was preaching the gospel—and to that end he enslaved his body that it might serve him and that purpose. He chose weakness and paucity and otherwise to win a position best placed to preach, openly, the good news of Jesus Christ our Lord.
We may not be preachers of the Gospel as Paul was, but we have the same aim.
When that is our goal, our very aim—to live for Christ—we do inordinate things that might be deemed eccentric, but are willed of God, in order that we would remain qualified, as we would discern qualification, for the heavenly prize.
Living life in, what I term, live time, is about understanding even a fragment of the scope and capacity of present time and our ability to act in it. We have been given this God-anointed Power to live and breathe and work and enjoy and love people. We have total freedom in that—freedom enough even to reject fanciful lifestyles in order to self-qualify-in-obedience for salvation living.
Running The Race Against Ourselves
Could it be that we run this race not against other people as competitors, but against ourselves? That we are competing on a race track called “control.”
We run in a way to be winning when we wrest control from external means, choosing for Power—provided by the Holy Spirit—and reduce that external control to nothingness for God. That is, we take the worldly extravagance in the lifestyles we lead and we make such elements of extravagance null.
In this, we gain Power. Such self-control remits a persuasive God-weighted self-confidence; that we are on track, on time, to qualify for the moment’s salvation.
We are running the race of the moment and self-control is our key.
Life is but a string of moments and each one of them can be saved—lived in such a way as to represent salvation. That is our race and those moments are our prize.
We ought to run the race of life to win—getting the most from ourselves, not in busyness, but in alignment to the will of God—to live for Christ.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.