Running the Race of Life
It’s that time that rolls around every four years, when Olympians remind us all of just how out of shape we all are!
•Someone posted on instagram the other day: There are 16 year olds competing at the Olympics and I still push on pull doors and struggle getting through the whole day without a nap LOL
Paul taught these lessons in his time, drawn from the experience of the Corinthian Games.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 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. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Paul talks about the Corinthian games which in ancient Greece was second in importance only to the Olympics. They were held every three years. I did a little research this week to study what those games were all about. I thought I’d share a little of this with you. I discovered that the games including running, leaping, spear throwing, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and racing in armor (my favorite). Everyone that competed were required to take an oath that “I trained for at least ten months and I will not resort to unfair tricks.”
There were many benefits to being a winner in the Olympic games first, your name and hometown were shouted out as you were awarded a wreath. Then you would be given a triumphal parade in your town. You would be given five hundred drachmas of money. You would be given the right to sit at a place of honor for all succeeding games for the rest of your life. Then if you won in the Corinthian games your children would receive a free education for life, you would be exempt from military duty for the rest of your life, and you were released from paying taxes the rest of your life. Is there any wonder that everybody competed in the Corinthian games?
Paul uses these games as an illustration for life. He pulls out of them four principles for successful living. Four things you have to do if you’re going to win at what matters most. We’re going to look at them today. But the number one analogy for the Christian in the Bible is that of an athlete.
The Bible says in these verses in 1 Corinthians 9 that there are four things it takes to win in life.
1. It takes desire. I must want to win.
2. It takes direction. I must focus on a goal.
3. It takes discipline. I must be willing to work.
4. It takes determination. I must never give up.
What It Takes To Win In Life
1. IT TAKES DESIRE. “I must want to win!”
1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
“Go for the gold! Aim for victory! Run to win in life! Have a passion to make your life count!
Reality: Most- live mediocre lives.
Goal: make enough money to retire! God didnt put you on this earth just to retire! Don’t take your gifts, abilities, passions to heaven with you. Heaven doesn’t need it. The world needs it. When you die, die empty! . He put you here for a purpose, for a reason. He wants you to make your life count.
Why would anyone NOT want to win?
o Maybe guilt – “I dont deserve..”
o Background- “You’ll never amt to anything!”
o Fatalistic attitude: “Whatever happens…
o Think its unspiritual
4 years ago Eight badminton players were swatted from the Olympics this week for not trying to win. They were trying to fix the bracket where they would not face tough opponents until the finals. The crowds booed at the embarrassment and finally the officials put an end to it.
Truth: God wants you to Succeed in Life (and your kids)
Then there’s some people who think that they don’t want to win in life because they think success is being selfish. It’s being unspiritual. If I try to make my life a success I’m being unspiritual. Did you know that God wants you to succeed in life?
Psalm 35:27 NIV – May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” “(The Lord is pleased with the success of his servants.”)
Tragedy: We settle for less than God has planned. The tragedy of life is that most people settle for second best.
Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Ask yourself this question – What do I want most in life?
Don’t be flippant about that. Maybe take a few days, a week or so to think about it. What do I really want most in life? Everything starts with desire. Nothing happens until you start getting God’s dream for your life.
Desire is the starting point but it’s not enough. I know a lot of people who’d like to be successful. They had the desire. But it takes far more than desire.
2. IT TAKES DIRECTION. “I must focus on a goal!”
I Corinthians 9:26 NIV – Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
(Living Bible)“I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I fight to win. I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around.”
I read a sign one time: If most people drove their cars the way they plan their lives they’d never get out of the driveway. Most people have never really clarified where they’re headed in life. People say, Where you going? To lunch. What do you want to do with your life? I don’t know. They’re just kind of drifting aimlessly all around. They just try to coast through life.
When you’re coasting, you’ve heard me say this before, you’re always going down hill. You never coast up a mountain. Your life is going downhill if you’re coasting
Proverbs 17:24 NIV A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth
•Good news Bible- “An intelligent man aims at wise action but a fool starts off in many directions.”
If -want your life to count- must settle your direction:
Must know exactly what you want…If you don’t decide what’s really important in your life other people will be glad to do it for you.
Philippians 3:12-14 The Message – I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
God says forget the past and press on
Ask: What is the FOCUS OF MY LIFE?
3. IT TAKES DISCIPLINE! I must be willing to work!
I Corinthians 9:25 NIV – 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.
•Living Bible – To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup,[a] but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.
These two words – discipline and self-denial – are not exactly popular words in the American culture.
Discipline is what we need most and want the least in our lives. Yet it is the thing that turns ability into achievement. The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is simply this: successful people are willing to do things and develop habits that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. They’re not willing to pay the price. That’s the difference. It’s your choice.
•We want beautiful bodies without exercise. We want wealth without work. We want success without sacrifice. We want spiritual maturity without service and study. It is absolutely impossible.
Proverbs 13:4 LB – Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.
•The mark of a great achiever is personal discipline. The habits you establish today – determine tomorrow
The third question you have to ask yourself if you really want to succeed in life is Am I willing to pay the price?
4. IT TAKES DETERMINATION. I must never give up!
I Corinthians 9:27 NIV – No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Paul: “I do whatever it takes to keep on going!! Nothing could keep him down. Whatever it takes I do that to keep going. I am not going to stop in the middle of the race. I’m not going halfway through and quit. I’m going to make it to the finish line. That’s determination.
I believe Success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination
Philippians 3:14 NIV – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
Persistence is the fourth key to winning. Determination, diligence, endurance. Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. They don’t know how to quit. Most people give up too soon.
Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Notice he says that in order to finish the race in life there are some things you have to let go of and there are some things you have to hold on to. You’ve got to do them both and don’t get them confused.
ASK What is holding me back? What is it that’s keeping me from becoming all that God wants me to be? past? addiction? relationship? habit? hurt?
The key: Keep your eyes on Jesus! Reason we give up too soon: We get distracted.
Remember the movie Chariots of Fire. One of the dramatic scenes in that movie about the Olympics was where the coach of Abraham was scolding Abraham because in the race he was running and he was winning and then he could not stop the urge to look sideways to see if Little was coming up to catch him. When he looked sideways Little passed him up and he lost the race. The coach said, “Never take your eye off the goal!” Don’t do it! The moment you start looking at the competition you start looking sideways you’re dead in the water. Don’t do it.
Paul refused to be sidetracked.
2 Tim 4:7 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
What matters in life is not all the awards and the acclaims and the salaries and the perks and the onuses and getting your picture on the cover of some newspaper. What matters is the eternal rewards which you will celebrate for eternity.
1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV – 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.
Focus on running the race that God intends for you
One of the most dramatic ex. of determination: Derrick Redmon- 1992 Barcelona Olympics 400 m runner from Eng.- pulled hamstring WATCH THIS: VIDEO
Catch what he said?
Derrick: “I felt an arm around me & I shrugged it off. But then my Father said my name!”
Father: “We started this together. We’ll finish it together.”
Derrick:”I’m glad he was there. Because he was the only
person who could understand what I’ve been through.”
Sometimes the race of life is tough. You get hurt.
You feel like you cant go another step. Worn out & discouraged.
o But your Heavenly Father is waiting to help.
o He calls your name & puts his arm around you.
o You lean on him… & he helps you finish the race!
Psalm 60:12 NIV – With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (“We can win with God’s help.” )
– We have no guarantee of tomorrow. – Whatever you’re going to do with your life- get on with it! Get on track with God today. The race starts with knowing Jesus.
“Dear God. I realize you made me for a purpose. You have a race for me to run. It is my desire to be what you meant me to be. Today, I’m asking you for direction. Jesus Christ, be my guide & lead me where you want me to go. Please help me to be more disciplined. Help me to let go of the things that hold me back. And help me to not get discouraged and give up when things get tough. Help me to keep my eyes on you Jesus. Father, I thank you that we dont have to run the race of life alone.