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. (1 Corinthians 9:24)
The Christian life has been described as a race. Paul used the imagery of running a race as a metaphor for how a person becomes a Christian and strives for the imperishable crown given to all who finish the course. Running a race like a marathon takes discipline to train the body to endure the race’s rigors. It is not an easy task requiring preparation, diligence, patience, endurance, and finishing the race. Like all sporting events, running a race demands adherence to the rules of the sport. In 1980, Rosie Ruiz crossed the Boston Marathon’s finish line in the record time of 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 56 seconds. Officials became suspicious of her time when it was discovered her presence in portions of the race could not be verified. She was stripped of her title because she had not run according to the rules. Paul explains the need to run the Christian race in such a manner as to obtain the prize, and this must be according to the will of God.
When a race begins, participants must be qualified to run. Without qualifications, the person is not eligible to run, and not everyone can qualify. The Christian race is not open to anyone and everyone but only those who have qualified for running the race. God has made available to all men the course of salvation laid out through the blood of Christ that when a man runs the divine race, eternal life will be granted at the end. Some try to enter the race in a manner different from the word of God. Some are running the race which qualified because they believed in faith only. Some run the race thinking being a good person will save them. Many run the race following the doctrines of churches created by men. None of these will receive the prize. They are not running according to the commandments of the Lord and are disqualified. When the Jews were pricked in their hearts on the day of Pentecost and asked Peter and the other apostles what to do to be saved, Peter told them the rules for admission. Three thousand people began their race that day because they followed the word of the Lord.
Becoming qualified to run the race will not grant the prize promised by God. That would be like a man who qualifies for the Boston Marathon and expects to receive the prize without running. He believes that he is good enough to be granted honor and glory without putting forth any effort as he stands at the beginning of the race unmoving. The race begins, and the race must continue until the end. Some may grow weary halfway through the race and give up. Some come very close to the end of the race and walk away. Sadly, they will not receive the crown. Why? They ran the race and put out some effort but did not endure until the end. Eternal life will only be given to those who begin the race in accordance with the will of the Father and finish the race by the word of the Lord.
Running the race of a Christian requires running in such a way to obtain the prize. God has given His people many things He expects them to do to be saved. In the church of the Lord, there are requirements of citizenship in the kingdom of God that must be met. Worship is the central part of a Christian’s life, and running the race means to worship the Lord in spirit and truth. Both are required to run the race in the proper manner.
An example would be the Lord’s Supper. This is part of the Christian’s life in service to the Father. Another feature of running the race is learning about the will of the Father through study, expressing love to God in prayer, assembling with the people of God weekly, and letting the light of Christ shine in the workplace, community, and the home.
The greatest joy of the Christian race is what is found at the end. It will be a weary, tiring, and exhausting race, but the joy of a crown of life and eternal rest in the bosom of the Father will make all the sacrifices worthwhile. God will wipe away all the pain of the race and the sorrows endured to receive the prize, and Heaven will be worth it all. Run the race in such a way to obtain. Begin your race today.