“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” 1 Corinthians 9:24
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
From a training perspective every runner needs to keep two basic things in mind if he wants to run to win: He must keep his weight down, and he must look after his feet.
It’s the same for the Christian. You can’t run the race of life if you’re weighed down. You must “throw off everything that hinders” Hebrews 12:1. You must say, “No!” to excess spiritual fat or flab in your life. You must aim to be a lean, but not mean, running machine. You must divest yourself of any habits or actions that are sapping your energy or slowing you down in the pursuit of Christ. Even the good must be discarded for God’s best. If your diet is all work with no time to pray, then it’s time to deal with it. If you spend a couple of hours a day in leisure related activities but little to no time reading God’s Word, then it’s time to join a spiritual Weight Watchers group. And if the desires of your flesh are more important than the will of God, you need to be working out on the treadmill of repentance. Every handicap, every hindrance must be eliminated. For you can’t run the race to win if you’re weighed down.
You must also look after your feet. You must keep your “feet from every evil” Psalm 119:101. You must “throw off … the sin that so easily entangles” Hebrews 12:1. If you don’t, if you ignore sin, you’ll stumble and fall. That’s what sin does. It trips you up. It gets tangled around your feet and before you know it you’re flat on your face. And, as everyone knows, you can’t run the race when you’re flat on your face. You’ve got to be on your feet.
In the 1981 film Chariots of Fire, there’s a scene in the early stages of the movie where Eric Liddell fell during a race. When a runner falls in a sprint he’s as good as lost the race. But Liddell was a true competitor: He scrambled up and took off after the other runners for all he was worth. To the utter amazement of the spectators Liddell managed to catch up and actually win the race. That’s what it’s all about. Running “in such a way as to get the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:24. Even if you fall, you have to get up, remember the goal, run to win.
So keep your weight down and look after your feet, for when you do you’re sure to win.