Desire: to wish, to long for, to crave, to want
Each sport has a particular goal, a particular mission that participating players want to accomplish.
The main objective of basketball is to garner points by shooting a ball through a hoop.
Soccer players score by kicking a ball through the goal post.
In tennis, athletes must use their racquets to hit the ball into their opponent’s courts and win a certain number of sets to be declared victor of the match.
Swimmers race each other to garner the fastest time.
Each sport has a different way of scoring. Nonetheless, athletes aim for one thing: to win. Whenever we play a sport, we want to win. If we are simply spectators watching from the stands or inside our living r. Nonetheless, athletes aim for one thing: to win. Whenever we play a sport, we want to win. If we are simply spectators watching from the stands or inside our living rooms watching the game on our television, we want our favorite team to win.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul uses athletics to remind us that we are also supposed to run this race of life in such a way to win the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24, NLT
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!
Oftentimes we ask – What is the prize that Paul speaks of? John Piper once noted:
God has not saved you to sit in the stands. God has not saved you to lie on the track. God has not saved you sit on the edge of the pool with your feet in the water. God has saved you to spend yourself for the glory of His Son. “You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor.)
The point of salvation is to make the glory of God visible in the universe (Mt. 5:16-note) That’s what this text is about. The running and fighting that glorifies God—that demonstrates He is real and worthy and precious and powerful and pure and loving and holy and satisfying. Running and fighting are all about revealing who Christ is for us and who we are in Him and how precious the prize of eternal life with Him is to us. That is the prize to which Paul speaks of.
1 Corinthians 9 continues:
1 Corinthians 9:25
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
In the different aspects of our lives – our family, our careers, our relationships, our ministries – are we running in such a way as to win in these areas of our lives and thus, glorify God? The victor’s crown or medal rusts and fades away; it does not last. However, we compete for the crown that lasts until eternity.
What kind of crown are we aiming to win? – The temporary prize? Or the eternal crown?
To end with the words of John Piper:
This is the utterly unique thing about the way a Christian runner runs: we run not as though we see Jesus the judge at the end merely scrutinizing while we rely on ourselves for strength; but we run as those who have already been taken hold of by Jesus for the prize. We run to win the prize in the power of having been taken hold of for the prize
Ultimately, we run to win the prize not in our own strength, but in His strength.