Readings for the Day Joshua 18-20 1 Corinthians 9
1 Corinthians 9:
"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 1 Corinthians 9, Paul starts by talking about his rights as an apostle. It would have been perfectly alright to receive a reward for his work among them. He reminds them that those who preach the gospel, should receive their living from the gospel. But Paul denies this right because he wants to offer the gospel free of charge.
Then Paul talks about his freedom and his rights. These include becoming all things to all people in order to win some. Like Jesus, Paul got down on the same level with the people he preached to. He identified with them and spoke in ways that would connect them to the Good News about Jesus. To the Jews, he ministered to them as those who were under the Law. To the Gentiles, he communicated to them as those who had no formal religion. They only knew about the gods of this world.
Finally, Paul likens the Christian life to a race. Just like the winners of the race ran to win, how much more should Christians set their eye on winning the crown which will never fade away. As we know, one can't just sign up for a race and go out and win with no training. But one needs to develop a training plan, commit to it, and be accountable to someone for it.
Having trained for several marathons if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is just that simple. You need a certain amount of varied, shorter runs during the week, and then usually a long, slow run on the weekend. Don't forget the water and power bars. And one aspect a lot of people forget, a day of rest. Without that day of rest, one risks injury and doesn't give their muscles time to heal.
A Christian trains as well. As the bible says, "Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind". The idea is to live God with all we are. As we read the bible and attend classes at church and on the internet, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. (Romans 12:1-2). When we pray unceasingly, we nourish our soul. (1 Thessalonians 5:16). And as we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, as God's holy temple, we stay healthy to do God's work. Finally when we serve with our strength, we should that we follow the One who served and gave his life S a ransom for many.
Of course training in our spiritual life takes time and commitment too. When we are not in an authentic relationship with Christ, our ministry is coming from an empty tank. We all know what that feels like. It is artificial and hollow. But when we are ministering out of a deep abiding in The Lord, we will bear fruit that lasts. How much time do you spending training for the goal of the heavenly prize in Christ Jesus? While winning races and other awards after training hard in this life are satisfying. There will be nothing like when we get to heaven and Jesus presents us with the crown that will never fade away.