“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
To many, this is a great quote . . . a word of encouragement. But most of us know that if there is no difference between winning and losing, we wouldn’t keep score. And like it or not, everyone keeps score.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul wrote:
Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.1 Corinthians 9:24 (CSB)
You and I have entered the ultimate race—and so has everyone else whether they realize it or not! It’s far more important than any athletic competition because our eternal futures are at stake.
Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown.1 Corinthians 9:24–27 (CSB)
So I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
Paul was not suggesting that we can win our salvation ourselves. You and I are saved by grace alone through faith in Jesus. Nor was he indicating that there will only be one winner…
He was saying that the life of the believer is one of self-discipline. One that can turn away from temptation and say “no” to sin. One that honors God physically, mentally, and spiritually. One that works like a disciplined athlete remaining diligently devoted to prayer, God’s Word, worship, and serving one another with love because this is the ultimate race . . . one that needs to be run with faith, hope, and love.
A Prayer to Run the Ultimate Race with Faith, Hope, and Love
Father, I have an image of a marathon, one with challenges, with uneven pavement, interference, and complications . . . and even a few stumbles along the way. But then I see You standing at the finish line. I see You waiting with arms open wide welcoming Your children with joy. And I realize, that with every challenge Your Spirit has been there to bandage wounds, lift me up, and set me on the path once again. When the journey is hard and I’m overwhelmed and exhausted . . . You say, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Lord, please give me the strength and courage I need to diligently run the ultimate race with discipline and determination. Please help me remain focused on You, Lord Jesus. Strengthen me with the truth of Your promises. Give me a heart for prayer and worship.
Help me live with faith, sustained by hope, and saturated with love. Help me help others. And love as You have loved me. Thank you, Father. By Your grace, I have everything I need. I love You, Lord. I praise You. I worship You. And ask that will help me run the ultimate race for the glory of Your holy name. Amen.
I think the thing that has really hit my heart today is that athletes never stop training. It’s impossible to show up the day of the race and win if you’ve never run before.
If you and I want to “run to win” the ultimate race of life . . . we need to remember we are not training and racing to beat out other runners, we are running to reach the One who is waiting for us at the finish line. We diligently train that we might glorify Him along the way.
And every athlete will tell you that training takes discipline and lots of hard work . . . but at the end of the race, it is worth every sacrificial diligent effort.
On today’s note write:
By God’s grace and with His help, I will run the ultimate race for His glory.
May He bless you today with all the faith, hope, love and discipline you need for today’s lap around the track.
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