The motif of the Olympic race was dear to the Apostle Paul. Did he sit in the stands in Athens or Corinth? Perhaps so. Regardless, parallels between "the games" and the believer's race in life were often on his mind. He (along with the author of Hebrews) gives us seven laws for running the race.
1. Run to win
"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." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NASB)
2. Observe strict discipline
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training . . . . I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." 1 Corinthians 9: 25-27
3. Don't look back
"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14
4. Get constant encouragement
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, [see chapter 11 for a list of encouragers] let us . . . run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
5. Throw off restraints
" . . . 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." Hebrews 12:1
6. Discount pain
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Acts 20:22-24
7. Don't let up until you cross the line
"For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:6-8
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Copyright © 1989 Jim Elliff
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