“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” – I Corinthians 9:24
I was running late for work again. It was one of those mornings where everything that could go wrong did. My husband and I just trained our three-year-old beagle, “George” to be off his leash and walk around our backyard unrestrained. We didn’t have a fence and we really wanted George to have freedom like the other dogs in the neighborhood. We worked with George for two weeks setting with him the parameters and boundaries of the yard. He was adjusting quite well, and we were pleased that he was establishing our trust.
That morning I let George out like I usually do for his breakfast and bathroom break. I walked out with him that day and watched him carefully. For some reason I was expecting him to disobey, kind of like a premonition or something. As George rounded the corner of our backyard to the side of the house, he trotted along rather fast. I yelled for George to come here, in a sweet tone, and maybe even told him I had a treat. George didn’t care and at this point, started running down the street in front of our house. I was now yelling, “GEORGE EUGENE FRAZIER, get over here RIGHT NOW!” As I was yelling, I was also running in heels down the hill following George which must have been a sight. As he heard me yell, he looked back at me for a brief second and stopped, it felt like a long minute, as if he was contemplating obeying or living free. As our eyes met, my eyes were pleading with George to come home but George’s eyes twinkled with wanting his freedom. Just after that stare, George took off again; however, this time running faster than Forrest Gump. Fortunately, our neighbor was witnessing the entire scene and pulled over in her car to get him.
George’s disobedience reminds me of how much I want my freedom. Like anyone else, I’m born with a sinful nature that always wants its way. When I enter into a relationship with Jesus, I am a new creature, but I still battle my flesh. I am called to run my race with determination, self-control and eagerness to win.
When given my parameters and boundaries by the Holy Spirit, sometimes I fall, similar to George thinking that outside of those lines is where my fun begins, but in reality, it destroys me.
I Corinthians 9:24, says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
In I Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church of Corinth, to encourage them and teach them how to live for Christ in their corrupted city. Even though this was written for the Corinthian church, it also applies to us today. In verse 24, Paul encourages us to run as if we are running to win, not merely being partakers to win a medal for participation or to be disqualified.
If we look further down this passage of scripture, we see that aim and determination is very important in finishing. In verses 25-27 it states, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Paul is stating that we compete in this race for a purpose, not merely just for the sake of running. We must practice self-control in completing the race, making our bodies our slaves so that when we teach or preach to others, we are actually living out our faith and practicing what we preach. We are not merely hearers of the word, but actual doers, therefore not being disqualified. In I John 2:4-6 (HCSB) it is written, “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.”
We know God by obeying Him and disciplining ourselves to walk as Jesus did. But please remember, we must rely on the Lord’s help! We cannot walk rightly on our pathway by our own efforts, only with Christ. I Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) says, “who, (meaning God), will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Let’s finish this race well, with our goal ever before us.
Hannah Epps is a working mother to a beautiful 3 year old. Writing is a passion of mine and I feel that if it can glorify God, then it must be good! I am a new (ish) Christian that is relearning how wonderful God and Grace is.
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