Winning the prize…



1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews….22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.

Some interesting imagery from the apostle Paul today. Three points jump out at me:

1. Paul is a free man, but he makes himself a “slave” of sorts. As a Roman citizen, he had rights and privileges that many others around him did not. Yet, for the sake of sharing the gospel with those less fortunate, Paul surrenders his privileges in order to “win” more people to Christ. The Greek word we translate as “win” (a fairly general English word that can mean many things) is κερδήσω (kerdaino) which has a more specific meaning of securing converts to the faith.

2. However, there is a bit of a word play as Paul compares his work in the gospel to an athletic race. He trains hard in order to gain success in this race. He points out that the prize he wins is eternal in nature rather than a “perishable wreath” which is here today gone tomorrow.

3. Some key questions emerge for me this morning. What race am I running right now? To what am I giving my effort and energy? What is the prize? Is it eternal like Paul’s prize, or is it more perishable – here today, gone tomorrow?

Lord, I have only one life to live. The older I get, the more I am confronted with this truth. As a younger man I always felt there would be plenty of time. Now that I’m in the second half of life, I find myself wanting to make my years count. I don’t want to squander them. I know many reading this blog post understand what I mean. Give us grace, o God, to run a race worth sacrificing for. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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