1 Corinthians 9:1-27
Friday, 18 September 2020
“Run in such a way that you may win.” -1Corinthians 9:24 [NASB]
In this letter to Corinthians, the apostle Paul draws direct comparison between the Christian life and an athletic competition. Corinth was the site of a great athletic festival, very similar to the Olympic Games. Contestants had to undergo a mandatory training without which they couldn’t participate. The highlight of this game was a great endurance race which Paul used as an illustration to depict the faithful Christian life. [adapted from NKJV Study Bible]
In those days the winner would receive a pine wreath crown. Paul mentions the imperishable crown for those who faithfully complete the Christian life!! The Christian race is the “Call of God.” Jesus said in John 15:16 “I chose you and appointed you that you would go...” In 2 Thes.1:11 Paul says, “that our God will count you worthy of your calling.”
2Tim.2:5 is clear: “Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.” Knowing that we will have to give an account of our lives (Heb.4:13, Rom.14:12, 2Cor.5:10) before God, let us understand the key principles of this “RACE” so that we will run in order to win.
Remember the compulsion to preach the Gospel [1Cor.9:16-17] Paul says that stewardship is entrusted to him; hence voluntarily preaching the gospel, qualifies him for the reward. Further, preach it without any charge! Many people have the qualification to preach the gospel – they have the knowledge and the resources – but do not have the drive! Jonah in the Bible received God’s call to preach the good news to a people whom he didn’t like! So he lost the drive, the passion! But that didn’t stop God’s plan in sending him to Nineveh! Don’t wait until you encounter God in a whale’s stomach, but commit now for the cause of preaching the good news. He will equip you! “God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called!!”
Accept to become all things to all men so that by all means we may save some [1Cor.9:20-22] Cultural and linguistic barriers prevent people from being effective in fulfilling their call of God! Paul in the above verses, states that he became one with various groups of people so that he would win them! He says that he had made himself a slave to all, so that he may win more. Paul identified himself with the Jews, with the weak, with those who were under the law and those who were without the law! Let us be willing to relinquish our cultural and ethnic identities, and move on to be identified with all, so that we may truly become the salt and light of the earth.
Carry out all things for the sake of Gospel so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. [1Cor.9:23] Our intentions behind our actions matters! We can do many things that may look like service to the Lord – however, it may not be of any value before the Lord! Many will come to Him and make claims of their service – but they will be utterly dejected (Mat.7:21-23). Let us serve Him in sincerity.
Exercise self-control & Discipline the body [1Cor.9:25 & 27] A disciplined life is inevitable to keep the pace of the race! Many believers fall away due to lack of devotion to the Lord – regular Prayer, Bible study, Fellowship and Service to the Lord is a must for a steady run.
Run with aim 1Cor.9:26 : Paul says here that his run is with a clear focus. In Phil.3:14 Paul further explains “I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” While only one person receives the prize in an athletic competition, in the Christian race all who run faithfully receives a crown!
Aim: “I have fought the fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also who have loved His appearance.” (2 Timothy 4:7)