Running To Win
TEXT: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
THESIS: The Christians goal in the race of life is the eternal reward.
INTRODUCTION: The athlete
who runs has one objective in mind. He is not running for the fun
of it. He is running to win. Needless to say, for the runner in
a race, winning is everything.
The Christian life has often been compared to a
race. It has been compared to a race for the following reasons:
Like the runner
in a race . . .
I. THE CHRISTIAN ENTERS
THE RACE OF LIFE TO WIN
The Apostle Paul
explained it in these terms . . .
“Do you not know that those
who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run
in such a way that you may win.” (I Cor. 9:24)
Note the phrase, “in such a way.” In
“such a way” indicates one thing - winning. The complete
sentence in which Paul asks a question in (v.24), is followed by
the complete sentence that includes the phrase above. It reads
like this, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
What was Paul’s point? The point is this, “The
Christian must give their best effort in the race of life.” Anything
short of their best effort can forfeit the prize.
Like the runner
in a race . . .
II. A CHRISTIAN MUST
EXERCISE SELF-CONTROL IN ALL THINGS
Hear these words
of the Apostle Paul . . .
“And everyone who competes
in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do
it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (I Cor. 9:25)
“Strict training”(v. 25), is a must for the runner who expects
to win the prize. Without strict training and good self-control,
the runner is likely to be distracted and ultimately lose the race.
For Paul, in his
race of life for the imperishable crown, he would deny himself any
distractions that would cause him to be sidetracked and forfeit
“Not that I have already
obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order
that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by
Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold
of it yet but; one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching
forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12-14)
The matter of self control is the whole issue
here. The lack of it, thereof, will cause the runner to be distracted
and forfeit the prize.
Self-control and self-discipline for the Christian
in the race of life is a must. Without it, one will not lose their
salvation, but in the words of one writer, one “ . . . can lose
the honor that comes from pleasing God with our lives.”
In his epistle
to the Galatians, Paul uses an agricultural metaphor to describe
the sanctifying work of the Spirit . . .
“But the fruit of the Spirit
is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with
its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also
walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one
another, envying one another.”
Note the phrase, “and self-control.” About
this whole matter of self-control in the Christians life, the writer
of Proverbs pinned these important and instructive words. . .
“For the ways of a man are before
the eyes of the Lord, And He watches all his paths. His own iniquities
will capture the wicked, And he will be held with the cords of his
sin. He will die for lack of instruction, And in the greatness
of his folly he will go astray.”
“Like a city that is broken into and without walls Is
a man who has no control over his spirit.
(Proverbs 5:21-23; 25:28)
One of the greatest
distractions in our society for the Christian in the race of life
are sexual temptations.
One writer stated it like this, “Satan tempts
people to sexual sin by using the lack of self-control to lead them
to immorality.” This writer goes on to say, “Satan can take
the good gift of God and lead people to use it in sinful ways.”
Someone has defined “lust” as desire out of control.
Without the exercising of self-control for the Christian in the
race of life this is what is likely to happen. As we will see in
this message, Paul refused to allow this to happen to him, and so
So you see, my
fellow sprinters, we must exercise self-control not only in the
area of sexual temptations, but in all things if we are to
win the prize.
Like the runner
in a race . . .
III. THE CHRISTIAN
RUNNER IN THE RACE OF LIFE MUST NOT WASTE TIME ON TRIVIAL MATTERS
“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I
box in such a way, as not beating the air.”
(I Cor. 9:26)
Paul was determined that he would not waste his
time on unimportant issues. Too often in our personal lives, and
in the church, we allow unimportant issues to dominate our valuable
time. We do too much shadow boxing as it were.
How can trivial and unimportant matters be eliminated
from our busy lifestyles? I like the way in which this writer put
it, “Christians must keep the Lord’s work in mind at all times.”
For the runner
in a race, one side glance to the right or to the left, can cost
them the race.
a runner in a race . . .
IV. THE CHRISTIAN IN
THE RACE OF LIFE MUST REFUSE TO LIVE IN ANY WAY THAT MIGHT RESULT
IN THEM BEING DISQUALIFIED
“But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly,
after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”
(I Cor. 9:27)
Note the phrase, “I discipline
my body and make it my slave.” What did Paul mean by this? As
I interpret this phrase, Paul had two goals to accomplish. One
in this life, and the second one in eternity. His first goal was
to win lost souls to Christ.
“To the weak I become weak, that
I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that
I may by all means save some. And I do all things for the sake
of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
(I Cor. 9:22-23)
His second goal
was to win the eternal reward laid up for him in heaven as seen
in Philippians . . .
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward
call of God in Christ Jesus.”
How did Paul keep from being disqualified? By
disciplining his body and making it his slave. Concerning “last
things” I like the way in which this writer summed up this whole
idea of rewards. He writes, “The awarding of a prize for successful
running following strict training indicates the judgment in view
has to do with service and rewards, rather than salvation and lostness.
This writer goes on to say, “Salvation is a gift of grace,
but rewards are earned. It is possible to be disqualified from
receiving rewards (I Cor. 3). Failure to remain disciplined and
faithful courts disqualification.
“Watch yourselves, that you might not lose
what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward.”
(2 John 8)
CONCLUSION: Are you
running to win? If you haven’t entered the race there are still some
openings. There is room at the cross for you!