Are You Ready For Game Day? By Greg Steir
If we treated the Christian life like a sport, we would all be more effective in loving and serving Jesus.
That’s what the Apostle Paul thought anyway, and can’t you just imagine him sporting an authentic jersey or doing the wave with the Greeks during the ancient Olympics? That’s why he challenges us with these words:
We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize! Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity. So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line. When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Paul saw the Christian life in terms of athletic competition in two distinct ways. First, he realized that following Jesus is a competition for a prize that will last forever. To win it, we must remember that we compete against ourselves and the enemy. When we forget that, we may end up just barely crossing the finish line or even worse— disqualified—which means we don’t receive the wreath of victory. To be victorious, we must long to hear “well done, good and faithful servant” from Jesus Christ on Judgment Day as He places a victory wreath around our neck.
The athletes who were victorious in Paul’s day took a vow to train for 10 months and deny themselves anything that would get in the way of winning. Sadly, I feel like Christians today wouldn’t give up 10 minutes a day to study God’s Word, pray and share the gospel with others.
Paul also made the comparison of treating the Christian life like a training schedule. He wanted to make every “punch” count, and he woke up every morning with the determination to not let his physical body rule over his spiritual calling to “deny himself and take up his cross” (Luke 9:23).
The bottom line here is that we need to start looking at our commitment to Christ like a race and like a fight. We are racing against time and our sin nature to receive the prize from Jesus, and we are in a competition for the very souls of our friends and family.
So would you start considering yourself to be a spiritual athlete? If you and I want to see people trust Christ and THE Cause go forward, we must enter into the kind of spiritual training that makes pro athletes look like lazy couch potatoes by comparison.
Start tomorrow by getting up 10 minutes earlier to talk to Jesus about your day. Deny yourself the temptation to post a status update or tweet for the 57th time today so you can check in on the love letter God sent you in the pages of the Bible. And when the enemy tries to tackle you as you attempt to score a goal for THE Cause, straight-arm him in the face with the strength that comes from living in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Know that one day we will all give an account to The Judge for the race that we ran for Him. Visualize standing before Christ for your life recap and performance review—that should highly motivate you to run the very best race you possibly can!
But most importantly, when you consider all that Jesus has done for you, how can you do anything less than give Him your all? Let your love for Christ drive you to great levels of discipline and focus which will lead to spiritual victories for His glory and His kingdom!
Are you ready for game day?