1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
It’s incredible the amount of time and dedication that is required to achieve athletic dominance. People who want to compete in the Olympics will dedicate their entire lives to that goal, eating right and training daily so they are in the best shape and have the best chance to win. Marathon runners build endurance. Sprinters chase speed. People who compete in other sports build strength or practice skills in order to be successful, to fight for that big prize at the end. And there are a multitude of other kinds of skills and talents that people work at to excel in whatever their passion is.
But our goal as Christians is more important than simply winning a prize or gaining knowledge or achieving excellence in some skill. So will we live with that same kind of passion and dedication in following Christ that world-class athletes do to win a medal? Self-discipline is important. Spending time is important. Making choices that allow us to achieve our desired outcome is important. Being diligent is important. Because we have a purpose to our efforts. We are striving to please God, and what higher calling is there than that?
Paul was willing to do those things he was telling others to do. As an apostle and a preacher of the Gospel, he was willing to do whatever was necessary for his high calling. He was going to live out that life he was encouraging others to pursue. He would strive for that high level that God requires. He was willing to make choices and sacrifice some things for himself to please God and bless others. He was approaching his service to his Lord with the persistence and dedication of those who win the race. He wasn’t willing to settle for giving anything less than his best to the cause of Christ.
So, what about us? Are we willing to make that kind of investment in serving the Lord? Are we willing to spend whatever time is necessary, push ourselves, endure through hardships, and pursue it day after day? Will we live with that singular focus of pleasing our Lord and obeying His Word and doing what He requires of us? Will we put whatever time and effort it takes to achieve that prize, that incorruptible crown that will be our reward from Jesus Himself? Will we live with purpose and perseverance so when it’s all said and done, we can hear Him tell us, “Well done”?