Yesterday evening and this morning I was thinking about that run the race verse in 1 Corinthians 9. Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “Am I just walking the race?”
Let’s take a look at that passage. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 states, “24 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. 25 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. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I [a]discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
As always, a little context to this passage. Apostle Paul seems to be defending himself in this chapter against those who questioned his apostleship. The passage at the end of the chapter appears to be both an encouragement to the Corinthian church, and also a closing of his defense with what he communicates of his efforts to make sure he’s lived up to the qualification of an apostle.
I find this verse somewhat motivational when I read it. Perhaps we can recall back to a time in our lives when we ran a race or competed in something we were really trying to win. And it’s interesting to see Apostle Paul communicate one’s journey to the imperishable, which in the Greek that means uncorrupted or immortal, as something we’re trying to do in such a way as to win it. If we’re trying to win in this faith journey, what does that mean?
Paul seems to lay it out for us in the verses after. It means exercising self-control in all things. Self-control in our actions, self-control in our words, etc. Seemingly doing our best to reflect our actions and words to the standards of scripture, just as one would do their best exercising and training in the analogy of running a race. Or if it helps a little more, think of something in your life that you put a high level of preparation and work into to succeed, or something you’re passionate about that you try to do at your best.
For myself, I think about the hard work I used to put into weight lifting, or how much I carefully analyze what the scripture specifically states in trying to understand it’s accurate meaning. Whatever the case may be for any of our lives, that same level of trying to do those things we do with an aim of success, it seems that’s what we’re encouraged to do the same with our faith.
This brings me back to my question I posed earlier. Am I just walking the race?
We all have to make our own determination on that. But this can be an encouragement for all of us to reflect on how much we’re really running our journeys of faith. An encouragement to do so in a way that we’re trying to win our journeys of faith, just as Apostle Paul detailed the selflessness of his actions in this chapter, which perhaps was a result of his disciplining himself in a manner that lived up to the qualification of an Apostle. May we all be able to discipline ourselves to live up to the qualification of a Christian.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.