1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Running the Race…
Are you running to win?
“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NAB
Paul, of course, is not speaking about training our physical bodies, but increasing our spiritual strength. Our faith is a muscle that we must train to use as an athlete trains for his sport. Instead of training to win trophies and prizes, we are training to win a spot on the podium in heaven. The first point to remember is that no one wins who does not enter the race. If we do not get in the race in the first place, we can never win the prize. Second, no one is born a natural spiritual athlete. To strengthen our faith, we must use our spiritual muscles daily. We must push the envelope of what they can do through prayer, fasting, meditation, and worship. Finally, we must keep our eye on the finish line. The race can be long and hard, and we will sometimes become discouraged along the way. But no matter how long the race may be, or the obstacles that we may face, we must keep our head up and keep pushing toward the finish line.
In the previous few verses, we learned that we need to speak the language of those we are trying to reach, and this verse is an excellent example of that. Paul is trying to stir the Corinthians by applying spiritual principles to everyday life. Using sports as an analogy may seem strange, but God will meet us where we are. In fact, my journey to Catholicism started at a sporting event – a Notre Dame football game. What passions and aspects of your life is God using to reach out to you?