There were two great athletic events that took place in Greece. They were the Olympic games held in Athens and the Isthmian Games in Corinth. Thus when Paul writes to the Corinthian believers he used athletic analogies to which they could relate.
He wrote that those who competed ran to win a prize that would perish, but that the prize which the church was running to obtain could never perish, nor could it be taken away. When I think about that analogy, I think of the untold millions of people living in America who struggle daily, striving to attain perhaps riches, comfort and ease, which at best, last a very short time. I’m amazed at the untold stories of men and women who have obtained inheritance of millions to billions of dollars, but who have never sought the riches of knowing and experiencing the grace of God found alone in Christ Jesus the Lord. Yet the church is exhorted to not run after things which do not endure, but to seek that which leads to eternal blessings of joy with Christ Jesus.
The church is not a spectator sporting event. All members of the body of Christ are encouraged to take an active role by training oneself with such things as self control and persistence. The apostle Peter had written that when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (1 Peter 5:4) Interestingly, the Greek word for that does not fade away is a name of a flower….the amaranth. And the crown was given as a mark of victorious achievement. Be encouraged dear saint that believers are promised crowns of glory that Paul says are imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:25)
So how are you running? Are you training yourself in such a way that is evidence of one who is running to win the prize? Spectators can never receive any award apart from a casual and perhaps some type of emphatic view of others striving to win the goal of which they are seeking.
For the young…..seek the things which endure unto eternal life.
For the aged…..rest not on past laurels or experience.
For all, although retirement may be sweet, have the mind of the old Puritan pastor who after being asked if he, in his advanced years, was ready to turn over the responsibilities entrusted to him as a shepherd, answered, “ Should I not run with all my might….seeing the finish line in sight!”