1 Corinthians chapter 9

Run To Win!

“Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. – Vs 24 NLT

Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win! (MSG). Sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it? After all, doesn’t everyone run to win? No, some just run for the fun of it. Others do it just to be a part of the competition. But not everyone who enters a race does so with the mindset that they have a legitimate, realistic chance to make it across the finish line first. But when it comes to our spiritual lives, Paul seems to believe that we need a winner-takes-all attitude. No second place finishes. This has less to do with the idea of winning or success than it does to our motivation and its impact on our effort. If I don’t think I can win, I won’t put my full effort behind it. If winning isn’t a possibility, then losing becomes not only a reality, but an inevitability.

Paul wanted to end well, so he determined to run well. He embraced the idea of beginning with  the end in mind. He had a hard-and-fast goal or objective he was trying to reach. Paul was big on the idea of knowing where you’re going. Compete like you want to get there – and ahead of the pack, not at the end of it. Paul says, “So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (Vs 26-27 NLT). Paul was willing to work at reaching his objective. He was willing to discipline himself for the purpose of reaching his goal: Godliness. He told Timothy to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:8b (NASB). Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Have an aim. Have an objective. Paul had one. Do you?

In his book, Search & Rescue: Becoming A Disciple Who Makes A Difference, Neil Cole has this to say: “In writing his last words to his spiritual son, Paul was looking for something that would inspire Timothy to fight the good fight and finish the read as a hero, just as Paul had done. He knew that continuing on in life without transformation is not success but failure. Sometimes I fear that parents and pastors alike will be content if their children and parishioners just hold on and do not fall away. I can understand this fear, but simply holding on is not godly faith. Jesus didn’t die and rise again so that we can stay the same, and for Paul this was abject failure. We are to more than mere survivors; we are to be victors in Christ.” No running just to run. No mere surviving for us Christ followers. We are to run in such a way that we may win. Victory is the goal. Godliness is the objective. But finishing well requires that I run well. In other words, to win!

Father, I want my goal to be godliness. I want to run with my eye on the goal. I do not want to settle for just being in the race. I don’t want the T-Shirt, I want the crown. Show me how to run the race before me with an attitude that says I am going to win in the end. Help me keep my eyes fixed on the finish line. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men