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Epistles of Paul: 17 - 1 Corinthians 9:23-26

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Epistles of Paul

17 - 1 Corinthians 9:23-26

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Epistles of Paul: 17 - 1 Corinthians 9:23-26

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.58 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (977.47 MB)
MP3 Audio (29.92 MB)

In this class we will discuss 1 Corinthians 9:23–26 and examine the following: Paul expresses his commitment to the gospel by stating that he becomes all things to all people, aiming to save them. He compares this to athletes who train rigorously for a perishable prize, while he seeks an imperishable one. Paul emphasizes self-discipline, not running aimlessly, but with a purpose. The passage underscores his dedication to sharing the gospel effectively, adapting to various contexts, and striving for the eternal reward of salvation.


[Steve Myers] Well, good to see all of you here today. This is another opportunity to study 1 Corinthians. This is Epistles of Paul class, and we left off last time in 1 Corinthians 9. We had just finished a section in this particular chapter where Paul talked about the fact that he had become all things to all people, which really indicated the fact that he changed his approach, he changed his style. He talked to people at their level, and as he did that, he certainly approached the preaching, not fudging the truth, always sticking with the truth, but doing it in a way so that he would engage those who he was speaking with. And if you take a look at chapter 9:24, verse 23 first, verse 23, he says why he did this. If you remember last time we talked about the example of him being in Athens and how he adapted his style for the Athenians, and here's why. It wasn't just to show he could approach things in different ways and identify with different people. Why did he do it?

1 Corinthians 9:23 "Now this I do for the gospel's sake that I may be partaker of it with you."

So it was all for the preaching of the gospel. It was so that God could use him as an instrument to reach anyone that God was calling. And he uses this interesting word, partaker, part of that base word there is the word koinonós is the word there that he uses as a partner, a companion, one who shares, and he's used that word several times or parts of those words several times in this letter already. He talked a little bit about the Passover being a participant. He's going to talk about that again in chapter 10, how we are partakers.

And here it says, "I'm a partaker of the gospel with you." And so, that's an interesting approach that he uses, that we're all in this together. And so, he's going to build on that very point of this idea of unity that we're together. Now, why would he do that? Because the Corinthians were so unified. No, they were divided. They had so many issues and so many problems. But he's pointing to the fact that's the goal. Unity is goal. That's what's important. And so, he's going to emphasize that very point that we have to be unified. And how do we pursue the gospel's sake? I mean, ultimately you think of that. What is the sake of the gospel? Well, it has to do with ultimately God's purpose and God's plan. The sake of the gospel ultimately is eternal life. And so, he talks about that very fact that we're looking toward eternal life. And is it something that just happens or do we have to be participants? Do we have to be partakers? Do we have to strive after that? Well, absolutely we do. Of course we do. And so, as we get to verse 24, notice how he emphasizes that very fact.

1 Corinthians 9:24 He says, "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."

Now to the Corinthians, this allusion would've had quite a bit of meaning. Think about Corinth itself. They were right at the point where they played the Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games, like the Olympics, but the Isthmian Games were held twice as often. So instead of every four years, like the Olympics is held, every two years during the spring. And the Corinthians love sports, was absolutely a passion for them. Very proud of their heritage of this athletic festival, and it was huge. It was huge. It was part of the Panhellenic Games. There were a number of different games. The Olympics being one, Isthmian being another one.

And so, imagine the scene. By the time Paul reaches Corinth, the Isthmian Games had gone on for 500 years. So this wasn't just some new event. This has been going on a long, long time. And they did it not just for the sports, but they also did it in honor of the gods. And the god that was honored by the Isthmian Games was Poseidon. You remember who Poseidon was? He was the counterpart to the Roman god, Neptune. Neptune. So the god of the sea, the earth-shaking god of the sea, as the Greeks might think of Poseidon.

And so the athletic games, the Isthmian Games were held, and they had a number of different events. Some of the events as he intimates here was running. So running was certainly one of those big events, foot races in the Isthmian Games. Wrestling was another event. He's going to talk about boxing and connect boxing to the Isthmian Games, but not just emphasizing the games, but what are spiritual connections to those games? He says, "Run as though you would obtain it." And so whether it was the discus or whether it was the javelin or yes, they had the long jump and they had chariot racing. All of those various events were part of the Isthmian Games. And the Corinthians were intimately connected to those games every two years. In fact, did you know singing was one of the games in the Isthmian Games? Yeah. And not only that, poetry reading, poetry was part of the games. You probably didn't know singing was an athletic event. I guess the way some do it is kind of an athletic event. But it wasn't something only for men either, women also participated. They've done some archeological discoveries that point to the fact that women also participated, at least in the 200-meter dash they did. They found evidence of that very fact. And so, you can see why Paul would reference this and connect it to our spiritual race, the spiritual race.

Now, you also have to remember, this all ties in with the preaching of the gospel. Remember when Paul came to Corinth, he meets Priscilla and Aquila there, and we can read about that in Acts 18. We read some sections of that earlier in one of our other sessions. And what it talks about there is Paul meets Priscilla and Aquila, and why did he meet them? Do you remember what the connection was? Was it just their Christianity? Well, no. Well, maybe we should just take a quick look back there. Acts 18 because it connects to what we are reading in chapter 9:24 here in 1 Corinthians.

Acts 18:2-3 "He found Aquila and Priscilla," verse 2, and notice what it says about them. "Because he was of the same trade. He stayed with them and worked for by occupation. They were tentmakers."

Now think about that connection to what Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 9. He uses this allusion of the Isthmian Games. You think Paul and Priscilla and Aquila might've been there? Well, their trade, they were leatherworkers. They were tentmakers. What do you think they had at the games? Wasn't like the Olympics today where they build these giant structures for not only the competition, but they also built them for housing for all the athletes, not back then. They would set up tents. They would basically have a tent city surrounding the fields of competition.

And so imagine fixing tents and repairing things with Aquila and Priscilla. There would be plenty of work and a variety of things, not just tents, but you can imagine leather sandals, water. They would have different leather pouches for water and that sort of things. Harnesses, saddles for the chariot races. All of those kinds of things would connect. So can you imagine the opportunity that they would've had to preach the gospel to be a witness for God's way? The Isthmian Games would've been a perfect opportunity, Corinth for that matter. And so when we begin to look at that, we could see why the Apostle Paul would have been connected to the games as he preached and as he taught, and then also use those games as a metaphor for our spiritual race. So let's take a look back at 1 Corinthians 9 again. And notice again in verse 24.

Acts 9:24 As he says, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?"

Of course, being in this city where they love sports so much, here, Paul begins to connect this race that would've been part of the games to our spiritual race. Now, it's a little different because as Christians, we're not competing against each other as they would've in the games. And so it's not about that. He's not saying that, well, only one Christian is running in this race, or only one Christian is going to win this race of salvation. But what is he pointing out here? He's saying, we've got to have an intensity as we run the spiritual race. We've got to be motivated. We've got to have an urgency as we run the race that God's called us to.

And that, the Corinthians would've identified with that. There wouldn't have been any athlete that would've just been satisfied to, "Oh, I am in the Games. Isn't this a great opportunity?" No, it wasn't that approach at all. It wasn't, "Well, everybody gets a prize or everybody gets a trophy." That was definitely not the approach in the Isthmian Games. No one ran that race unless they were absolutely committed to striving to win the prize. That's what it was all about. And so every athlete was focused. Every athlete was committed to obtaining the prize. And it was the only goal that was in mind. That was everything. And maybe like Vince Lombardi was quoted to have said at one time, "Winning isn't the only thing, it's everything." And that would've epitomized the Corinthians and those participants in the games. It was everything.

In fact, they were so committed, the athletes in the Isthmian Games had to take an oath before they competed against each other. And so, one of the most prominent buildings there at Isthmia, right near Corinth was a temple that was dedicated to the god that represented the Games, to Poseidon. There were other buildings there as well. There would've been a theater. Remember we talked about singing and poetry and those kinds of things, the other entertainment. There would've been also the Hippodrome where they would've had the chariot races. There would've been other buildings as well used for some of the competitions.

But the interesting part was that as they began the Games, they would assemble at one of the temples and the athletes would take an oath. They would take an oath to the greatest of Greek gods, which wasn't Poseidon, it was Zeus. It was Zeus, a similar god to the Roman, Jupiter. So Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. And they would take a vow and they vowed that they would compete. They vowed that they were prepared to compete. They vowed to the fact that they had disciplined themselves to be ready to compete. And it also included the fact that they vowed to compete by the rules. So it wasn't just about competition. It was competing by the rules and that they had prepared to do just that. And if they broke that oath, what do you think happened? Disqualified, right. They were disqualified from the Games.

And so, when you think about that, there's some interesting connections to that. When you think of the spiritual parallels. Are there spiritual parallels to that, that Paul is intimating in what he writes to the Corinthians? I think absolutely. Have we as Corinthians, not as Corinthians, but as converted Christians, we as Christians, have we taken an oath? Absolutely. We take an oath at baptism. Have we prepared to take that oath? Absolutely. We need to, no doubt about it. Are we entered into the spiritual race? Absolutely, no doubt. Are we supposed to run halfhearted? Well, I'm glad I'm here. Uncommitted, kind of take it or leave it once in a while? No. In fact, do we actually speak an oath when we come to baptism? We do. We do. We are asked two big questions. Have you repented of your sins? Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, your Lord, your master, your high priest? You take an oath and you say yes. And we verbalize that commitment to God.

And so, we are put in this spiritual race and we're told to run that we can obtain it. So it's not like the gold medal or the silver medal or the bronze or anything like that. We are entered into the spiritual race to win the gold. That's what it's about. And in ancient times, there was only one winner. They didn't even have second place. They didn't have the silver medallion that they would give as a medal, that was known as the first loser. Silver would've been the first loser. And so there was no second place. So their commitment was to win, to win. And of course, if you won, then you were able to go and stand on a pillar or some type of a platform that everyone would recognize you. Oftentimes it was at the end of the race, at the end of the track. And so that when the athletes would run that race, guess what you'd see at the finish line? You'd see that platform and you'd have that goal in mind. That's what I'm going after. I want to win. I want the winner's platform. I want to receive the prize. And so if you take a look at verse 25, it certainly is a great reminder of the spiritual connections that Paul is making here.

1 Corinthians 9:25 He says, "Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things."

Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. So there were definitely rewards for winning the different events in the Isthmian Games. One of the things was the crown. Well, what is it described as? They say, a perishable crown. The crown. Some translations say a crown of victory, a crown of victory. Now that's not like a king's crown or something that you might imagine royalty wearing. That's a different word in the Greek. That's the word diadem would be a kingly crown. But this crown is a stefanos. This is a victory crown, the victory crown that they would receive for winning. So there weren't diamonds or jewels or anything like that on this particular crown. This was a crown of celenon [SP] was the word that they'll often refer to in reference to this particular crown, which modern day terms is kind of like celery or parsley or some type of plant like that. There's different variations in different ways. In Roman times, it was often a pine kind of a wreath that they would wear for a crown. So there are different varieties, different versions. The pine wreath was actually the epitome for the Isthmian Games. They would have some type of a wreath out of pine that they would wear as indication, you're the victor, you're the winner. They also received a little monetary award as well. Something like a hundred drachma seemed to be the tradition of the day, which is pretty good pay. You might receive 1 drachma for a day's wages, so a hundred was pretty good. It was pretty good wages for that time.

But more importantly, how did they treat the winner? Wow. Like they were royalty, that's how they would treat. Oftentimes, they would not only have them stand up on the platform and be recognized by everyone, they would at times inscribe their name in stone as the victor of the games. Remember we mentioned singing as part of the games. Oftentimes, they would write songs to the winner of the various games. And so, that individual who won would basically be set for life. They would be a hero among the people. And all of that was for what? It says, a perishable crown. Yeah. Oftentimes, by the time they won an event, the celery or the parsley or whatever the thing was made out of was often already wilted by that time. And so yeah, that wasn't going to last very long.

But Paul says, we should run to obtain the spiritual prize. Obtain it, obtain it, go after it. That word for obtain is an interesting one. Obtain it is the word to lambano. Lambano, to obtain it, which doesn't mean just go after it or get it. You think of obtaining something, it almost sounds like something somebody gives you. But this has the connotation of seizing it, to really go after it, to make it your goal, to take possession of it. So it definitely has a much stronger connotation than just to obtain it. So really lay hold of it. Sometimes that word is translated in other sections of scripture.

And of course, you think about why we are running and why take this spiritual race so seriously. He says, "We've got to lay hold to the prize." So what about that prize? What about that prize? He describes that prize over in 1 Timothy 6. So if you want to hold your place here in 1 Corinthians, take a look at 1 Timothy 6:11. He describes that prize very specifically here. And it's interesting the words that he uses here as well as he's writing to this young minister, Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:11 He says, "But you, oh man of God, flee these things." Just got done describing many of the challenges and sins that go after us. What is Timothy supposed to do? Run. He just got done saying that in 1 Corinthians 9, didn't he? "Run away from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."

Ultimately, those are the results of running a spiritual race that we're putting on the character of Christ. We run away from evil, but that's not good enough. We have to finish this race. We have to seize it. We have to obtain it, and we run after those spiritual traits. And then ultimately, we find those along the way to the ultimate prize, which he talks about here.

1 Timothy 6:12 He says, "Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life. Lay hold on eternal life to which you were called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

That's the ultimate goal. It's not the wreath, parsley. It's not just standing on the platform of the victors. No, it's eternal life. That's the prize that we are after. That's the goal that we're after, eternal life. And he says, lay hold of it. Same base word that we read in 1 Corinthians 9, obtain it. Lay hold on eternal life. It adds a couple of little extras here. Here it puts in the prefix, epi, epilambano, mai is the end that it also adds here in this particular phrase, which basically just emphasizes it even more, that we absolutely have to go after the prize. We have to go after eternal life.

And so, our focus needs to be the goal of eternal life. And that's why Paul said, that's the imperishable crown. That's the crown we're after. It's not that we earn that crown. We're given that crown. We're given eternal life, no doubt about that. But he tells us we have to run as to obtain everything that God wants to give us. And that's such an incredible point when you think about it. That's why we run. That's why the athletes ran in those Isthmian Games. They wanted that temporary crown, but we're after the imperishable. We're after ultimately, eternal life. That's the goal. And so Paul emphasizes that fact.

In fact, if we turn back to 1 Corinthians 9, once again, notice that emphasis in verse 24. Once again, verse 24, read along with me in whatever version you have. If you've got New King James, in the New Living, it says a little bit different, gives it a little bit different emphasis here. And I just want to read that one more time in the New Living. So take a look at 1 Corinthians 9:24.

1 Corinthians 9:24 It says, "Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one 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, that perishable crown, but we do it for an eternal prize. Why do we run? That's why. But he also talks about how we run, how we run. He says, verse 25, here in New King James.

1 Corinthians 9:25 "Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things."

And that's where the New Living gets disciplined in their training, discipline. We are disciples of Christ. We are disciplined. That base word is the same. We're disciplined. We have to be disciplined in our training just like those athletes were. And if you think about those Isthmianathletes, it's an interesting comparison that Paul makes because athletes in those games, gave everything to train for the competition. They would literally be temperate in all things. They would do things in moderation. They would do things with restraint. They weren't participating in all the distractions that everybody else was a part of. They were determined. And so that idea of being disciplined or temperate, that has to do with self-control.

If you're going to be a professional athlete, you have to have self-control. They had to avoid anything that had a issue that would slow them down, that would get in the way, that would cause them to not be ready for the games. And so they would condition themselves. Have you ever looked into what some of these professional athletes do today just to be ready to participate in their sport? It's absolutely phenomenal. And so much so they did back then as well. So they'd control what they did, how they practiced, how they ate. They deny themselves of the pleasures of Corinth and the things that everybody else would enjoy. They denied themselves and they went through suffering. They went through training, they went through sacrifice. And why did they do it? To obtain the prize. That was all for something that's going to fade away, a perishable crown.

Now, Paul's in a way saying, can we bring that same effort, that same discipline, that same commitment to our Christian life, to our way of living? That's the goal. Is it true that perhaps we don't live like that kind of a competitor, that we don't take it that seriously? Yeah. I think all too often we're more like the spectators in the stands. We're kind of watching the race. So, we're cheering on those who might be doing well. But that's not the image that Paul paints here. What happens? You're at the game and you're cheering everybody on, and you're really into it. It feels like you're a part of the game. But what happens after the game? Anybody ever been to a professional sports event? I'm raising my hand. Yeah, it's great. You could yell and cheer and you're there and you're experiencing this and you're a part of it. In football, "We're the 12th, man. Yeah, that's what we are." But what happens? Game's over. We go home. What do the athletes do? They get back to work. They get back to work. And so we can't be like that. Paul's saying, you can't be a spectator. You can't just be, you know, an apathetic participant that just goes home and goes back to their normal life just watching the game. No. He says, get into the game. Get into it.

And so, if you hold your place here in 1 Corinthians, go back to 1 Timothy. I guess I should have had you hold your place there. But in chapter 4 this time, 1 Timothy 4, you can see how Paul loves this metaphor of the games, and he uses it again as he writes to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 4, notice verse 7.

1 Timothy 4:7 Here he says, "Reject profane and old wives' fables and exercise yourself toward godliness."

So similar kind of imagery there. Exercise yourself toward godliness. The word here for exercising is the word gumnadzo. Gumnadzo, this is a G-E here, which we get our word gymnasium from that base word, gymnasium. You exercise at the gym, right? You go to the gym, you exercise toward godliness. And so here, he's pointing out what he told the Corinthians, you've got to spiritually condition yourself. We have to be in spiritual shape.

And how do you get into shape? Well, if you're an athlete, you go to the gym and you get in shape, you run that race, you do those things so that you are ready. You just do it once? Now remember, those participants in the Isthmian Games, they were disciplined and they prepared themselves. They took an oath to say they had prepared for. So we're talking about repetitive training exercises. They had to do things over and over and over again to be ready. So spiritually speaking, what does that look like for us? Well, you think you have to study your Bible more than once? Well, of course. How about prayer and meditation, fasting, those big items? Yeah, we've got to be doing that. And we have to do it in a repetitive way, continue to do it, it's ongoing. And then we've got to show the fruit of that. We've got to show love. We've got to show peace. We've got to show gentleness. We've got to illustrate those things that we have taken these things to heart.

And so, it's even interesting to think about Paul writing in this way and using the imagery of an athlete, like, he mentions here, we exercise ourselves. And he says, yeah, physically it helps a little bit. But boy to godliness, spiritual exercise is profitable for all things. That's really where it's at. And so, he uses this concept of a Greek athlete that really had originally the base meaning for the word athlete in Greek, you know where that came from? It came from a word that they connected to suffering because it was tough. It was tough to be an athlete at the games. And so, athlete kind of morphed into athlitis in the Greek, which means literally to struggle or to endure. And so ,it carries that idea of struggling and striving and suffering and enduring. And so, no wonder over in 2 Timothy 2, notice 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul continues to use that imagery like he used in 1 Corinthians 9 to really make that spiritual point.

2 Timothy 2:5 He says "Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."

And so, athletes were known for their severe discipline that they would endure the suffering and the difficulty and the stress in order to be the best that they could be. And the suffering, even some of the commentaries that you might read, it's probably a mild way of putting what athletes actually went through, because some of the games were just absolutely brutal, brutal battle grounds where there would be fierce rivalry between the competitors. And so, with the crown resting in balance with the national recognition that they would've received, I mean the stakes were absolutely the highest. And of course, with the possibility of winning that recognition, wow, that was everything to them.

Of course, losing, what do you think went along with losing? Well, it wasn't like, well, good effort. No, it was usually shame. Sometimes it resulted in condemnation. Sometimes these athletes were denounced. And even in some extreme cases, you can read about some of the extreme things that there might even be injury that they suffered in the games and then possibly even death. And so, all of that points to the indication we've got to have discipline. We've got to have self-sacrifice if we're going to serve God in the way that He decides us to serve. And so consider that not only were these athletic events, you also have this connection to the Greek gods as well. So there was a sense the games also connected religiously to the Greeks. And so we don't want to overlook that.

One of the things that they vowed to before they started the games, yeah, we talked about that oath that they had to take. They also vowed to the gods. Before the games began, they vowed to the gods to compete with everything they could and swear an oath to them as well. And part of that oath was the strict training prior to the event. So for us, you can see that connection. If we go back then once again to 1 Corinthians 9, take a look at verse 26, as Paul continues to talk about not only why we run, but how we run. And notice the interesting connection here that he makes.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 He says, "Therefore, I run. Thus, this is the way I run. Not with uncertainty." Not with uncertainty. So some translations say, "I run with purpose. I run with purpose, every step, every step." Verse 27, then he says, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I preach to others, I myself should become disqualified."

So he disciplines his body. That ties back into that idea of repetitive training exercises, continuing to do these things, repetitive training. All of those things have to be a part of our practice. So we can't just study our Bibles once in a while. We can't just pray once in a while. We've got to have that as our habit, as our goal every day. And there has to be that kind of a commitment. And even today, you know what the athletes call that? Muscle memory. Muscle memory. And whether you a basketball player or whether you are a quarterback, there's certain things that they've done repetitively over and over and over again. They don't even really have to think about it. They just do it because they've done it so many times over and over and over again. So we need spiritual muscle memory. That's what we need. And we need to develop that kind of.

So it's time to get in the spiritual gym and work those spiritual muscles. That's what Paul is telling us. That way God can give us the victory crown. We give God the glory every single day. We develop that spiritual muscle memory and we're ready to receive the gift of eternal life. And so that's taking our calling seriously. That's demonstrating that obedience, that gratitude to God, that commitment for all that He's done for us to follow Him. And so, He tells us that's the kind of race we have to run. And of course, do we have to compete by the rules? We sure do. Well, He gave us the rule book. We've got the rule book, and we can compete according to the rules. What's that remind us of? Well, how well do we know the rules? Do we know the rules? Do we know the guidebook? Do we know the manual? Do we really understand it? Have we put it into practice? Yeah, that's why we read and study. And most importantly then apply the Word of God to our life.

Fortunately, God says, I'm not going to leave you. I'll never leave you or forsake you. He's going to be with us in this race. So it's not even by our own power that we accomplish these things. It's God in us. It's by the power of God's Spirit. And so, He can give us that perspective and then we can pray for that perspective. I think we set our hearts to follow God, we pray, and we ask Him to give us that wholeheartedness that we need, that kind of urgency, that kind of devotion to follow Him and remind ourselves, yeah, this is a race.

And even though today may seem like a dreary slow day, we still got to be running. We better be spiritually running. We have to be in that continual race, and we have to continually self-sacrifice, have self-control, deny ourselves of what this world thinks is important, and have that earnestness and develop that spiritual muscle memory so that we have that kind of world-class commitment to God. And so ask Him to help. Ask Him to give you that help that you need so that you can be determined, so that you can have that kind of a discipline zeal to really be a full participant in this Christian race that we've been called to. And I think as we do that, then we can certainly have that kind of perspective that Paul writes about. So if you make your way back to 1 Corinthians 9, we can see very clearly that's the kind of race we are to run. Notice verse 26, once again.

1 Corinthians 9:26 He says, "Therefore I run. Thus, this is how I run, not with uncertainty."

And so we are certain about our calling. God has blessed us in this calling. So as we consider that, we've been called to run away from evil and pursue good. And the best part is who wants us to win? Well, not only our fellow participants in this Christian race, God wants us to win. God wants us to win, and He's given us every possible provision so that we can win. But of course, we still have our part. We have to be disciplined. God set the course right? He's set the race and it's marked out by His will. And ultimately, what's the finish line? Well, ultimately it's the resurrection. It's at the resurrection at the return of Christ.

So maybe we could ask ourselves, where are we in this Christian race? Where would you say you are? Are you back at the starting blocks? Maybe we haven't gotten into the race yet. Well, it's time to make a commitment to God if we haven't started the race, if we haven't taken the oath, if we haven't considered baptism, now's the time. Now's the time. That finish line of the resurrection is getting closer all the time. Now's the time. And so where would you say you are at in that race? Are we rounding the last curve? Are we making progress? Boy, worst of all, I suppose it would be being in the bleachers, just being a spectator. We sure don't want that.

But wherever we are, I think we're reminded by Paul, get in the race. If you're not in it, now's the time to get in. And once you're in, run it with all that you've got. Run it with everything and determine to ultimately cross that finish line as the victor. And if we keep in mind, God's going to help us. God's going to equip us. God's going to train us and help us every step of the way when we continue to dedicate ourselves to Him. So let's do that. Let's be dedicated on our part and remember why we run and remember how we run and take that calling seriously. And ultimately, I suppose that would be obeying our great spiritual coach. And so let's, like Paul says, run.

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