Preparing to Win the Prize

Today felt like a genuine “busy” day. I left the house at 8:30 a.m. had a conference call at 9 a.m. a coffee meeting at 10 am. a lunch at 11:30 a.m. a live webinar where I was a guest at 1:00 p.m. at workout at 2:30 p.m. and a Chiropractor appointment at 4:30 p.m. Considering how I’ve felt the last two days, I was glad that I did as good as I did. I think it helped to keep moving. I’m glad I have only a breakfast meeting scheduled for tomorrow. In the midst of it all, I walked half the length of a basketball court, without crutches, during my fitness workout!

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.” 1 Corinthians 9:25 HCSB

Athletic competition has been something for people to related to for thousands of years. Regardless of the sport there is training and preparation and the competition and the crowning of the winner. It may be for a game or a tournament or an “end of season” or state championship. But there is only one winner, whether that be an individual or a team.

I remember the baseball coach I assisted at Colby Community College, like the say, “preparation, execution, celebration.” This summarized his coaching philosophy. If the training and preparation is adequate and the execution proper it will lead to celebrating a victory.

When I was hospitalized almost three years ago, my senior softball team was playing its final game of the season and preparing for the tournament. We actually were league champs that year. When I got out of the hospital, some of my teammates came to visit me an presented me with the token of our accomplishment….a “t-shirt!”

Paul connects with the Corinthians who were familiar with the games that were the precursor  to the modern day Olympics. He pointed out, “Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize?”  (1 Corinthians 9:24 HCSB) Accomplishment is not automatic, it is earned through discipline, sacrifice and hard work. In making a spiritual application Paul says, “play to win!”

In order to win, discipline is needed in all areas of life. An athlete will train physically, prepare mentally, will watch their diet, monitor their schedule. Attention will be given to anything that will serve as a distraction to winning the prize. Anyone remember the, “no-girl-friend” policy during a high school sports season?

The bottom line is, if an athlete goes through all of that self-control to win a prize that is soon forgotten or perishes, how much more should the follower of Christ exercise the discipline that is needed to win the “prize of heaven?”

This is not an issue of salvation, and I’m glad that there is not just “one winner.” Paul uses this to point to the importance of faithfulness to Christ and not bringing reproach on the gospel. We see this in Paul’s words, I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:26,27 HCSB)

The greatest prize for any believer are the words of Jesus, “well done good and faithful servant.” The life we live is important; the goal before us is of great value and eternal.

Prayer for today… “Lord help me to maintain my focus, self-control and discipline as I “run the race” to gain the prize that is set before me. Help me, like Paul to seek that “crown of righteousness” from you when you return or when I come to the end of this life’s journey.”