Running for the Goal Means Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize

It is so tempting to go through life comparing ourselves to everyone around us. Am I keeping up with the Jones?

Instead of fixing our eyes on our neighbors, we need to set our sights on the goal that is before us. We need to set our mind on things above, where Christ is, not the things of earth (Col 3); we should look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12). As we run we need to keep our true goal in mind.

We could look around and think that we’re doing enough because we’re not as bad as someone else. But other people are not like some sort of pace car that we measure ourselves against. We look to Jesus alone and seek him as our goal.

The Importance of Having a Goal in Our Christian Walk

There is a good reason there are so many 5k races these days. What aspiring runners have realized is that without a goal, the training is much more difficult. If you just want to run because it’s good for you, that may never happen. But if you first sign up for a race and then start training, that goal drives you on to prepare with more intensity, commitment, and endurance.

Runners

In his comparison to running Paul writes, “I do not run aimlessly” and then in reference to boxing, “I do not box as one beating the air.” He has a goal. The call of God drives him onward and rather than pointlessly beating the air, he disciplines himself. He knows what he needs to do in order to best meet the task before him.

I fear that for many Christians, their faith is pointless. Not that it doesn’t mean anything, rather it is pointless in that it lacks direction. There is no goal that drives them. Some think believing in Jesus is the finish line. But believing in Jesus enters us into his kingdom and into a new way of being. It’s a new creation and a new beginning. As Paul has mentioned earlier in 1 Corinthians we are no longer like the natural person for we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit. We are given God’s wisdom and all of us should have a calling and purpose.

But if we think we have no driving purpose it takes away from what we’re called as Christians to do. For what good is discipleship with no purpose? Why read the Bible? Memorize scripture? Pray? The goal of these things isn’t to make ourselves good. The goal is to do the good to which God calls us. The goal is to discipline ourselves like an athlete so that as we run the race and seek the goal of sharing the gospel, we will be ready. Discipleship should be seen as training–not training for no reason, but training in preparation for whatever God intends for us.

We can view the spiritual disciplines of our faith as aimless jogging, just to make us fit. Or we can view discipleship as training for a race, and a race that we intend to run hard. If you see it as the latter and you know that God wants to use you, doesn’t that then encourage you to be in the best shape possible?

So what goals do you have? What purpose do you see in your life? What do you think God wants you to do for the kingdom? That’s the first step. See the race God wants you to enter and sign up. Then “discipline your body and keep it under control,” as Paul writes. Looking toward the goal, commit yourself to whatever God needs you to do in order reach that end.

Racing In Order to Receive the Prize

Memory Verse 1 Cor 9.24

Paul loves his illustrations and sports are metaphors are not under-represented. Here in 1 Corinthians 9:24 he talks about runners. Running is a sport that I just don’t get. I see running as a means to an end, such as running in order to get to a soccer ball. But my personal opinion aside, running certainly has its fans and it most certainly has an ancient history.

Running is not just something you can do without any work involved. Paul’s audience knew how athletes, even ones with natural gifts, had to train themselves. If you were to enter a race, you prepare for it and put your body through intense workouts. That is Paul’s image here, but he of course, is alluding to something greater than a race. Nonetheless, that image is powerful and deserving of some thoughtful meditation and even memorization.

What race is God calling us to? What does it mean for a Christian to hit the gym in preparation for God’s work?

Memory Verse 1 Corinthians 9:24 for iPhone