Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
History and Context:
In the first two verses of 1 Corinthians we can see the author and reciever of this letter. Paul wrote it, with a 'brother' named Sosthenes, to the church in Corinth who, he says, are "called to be saints". Corinth was a city on the main trade route between Asia and western Europe, and Paul had spent two years there establishing the church. Paul wrote this letter in order to address division and immorality in the church in Corinth.
Paul begins the chapter defending himself, he then leads into a description of how "those that preach the Gospel should live by the Gospel". This leads into a description of how he has made himself a servant to all men, and as a servant to all he runs this race in order to win. He of course is referring to life as a race and brings examples which the people of that day would understand. People in that day would compete yearly in games very much like our Olympics. Those who won recieved a crown, named here as a perishable wreath. He mentions the discipline that it took in order to win these races and challenges them to live their life in Christ like that. To live a disciplined life, a life striving to win. But for us, he says, the crown that we recieve will never perish.
Are you running to win? Are you living a disciplined life? Have you brought your body "into subjection"? In order to run the race to win we need to be disciplined in our daily life. We need to control our flesh and offer it as living sacrifices before God. What habits are you still doing that you have been doing for years? What things have you allowed yourself to get away with by saying "it's just a little thing"? It's the little things which will take us down. We need to live our spiritual life like a disciplined runner, focused on our goal, which is Christ.
Lord, help me to discipline my life and my actions. Help me to break all habits that are not of you. Help me to keep focused on the goal you have set before me. Thank you Lord! In Jesus' name, Amen!