Aspiring Olympians spend months, even years, following rigid diets, building their bodies, and disciplining their minds. They do it not only for the medal and audience applause, but also for the personal thrill of winning. One victory often inspires them to win again. The apostle Paul used the Olympic-type competition to illustrate a vital spiritual truth. In 1 Corinthians chapter 9, he said, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” Just as any serious athlete trains the body and mind to compete and win in physical competition, so every serious follower of Christ should discipline their spiritual lives. Yet as Paul said, we do it not only for the eternal reward, but also to equip ourselves to serve our Lord Jesus Christ today—doing our part to fulfill His present Kingdom agenda.
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