1 Corinthians 9:15-27
15 But I haven’t used any of those rights. And I’m not writing because I hope you will do things like that for me. I would rather die than have anyone take away my pride in my work. 16 But when I preach the good news, I can’t brag. I have to preach it. How terrible it will be for me if I do not preach the good news! 17 If I preach because I want to, I get a reward. If I preach because I have to, I’m only doing my duty. 18 Then what reward do I get? Here is what it is. I am able to preach the good news free of charge. And I can do it without making use of my rights when I preach it. 19 I am free. I don’t belong to anyone. But I make myself a slave to everyone. I do it to win as many as I can to Christ. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew. That was to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one who was under the law, even though I myself am not under the law. That was to win those under the law. 21 To those who don’t have the law I became like one who doesn’t have the law. I am not free from God’s law. I am under Christ’s law. Now I can win those who don’t have the law. 22 To those who are weak I became weak. That was to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that in all possible ways I might save some. 23 I do all of that because of the good news. And I want to share in its blessings. 24 In a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. You know that, don’t you? So run in a way that will get you the prize. 25 All who take part in the games train hard. They do it to get a crown that will not last. But we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 So I do not run like someone who doesn’t run toward the finish line. I do not fight like a boxer who hits nothing but air. 27 No, I train my body and bring it under control. Then after I have preached to others, I myself will not break the rules and fail to win the prize.
I see Paul making a parallel, especially in verses 24-27, to the professional athlete who has a clear goal (winning) and therefore a clear lifestyle (training hard to win). And he’s making a contrast – the prize that only lasts for a moment, and the prize that lasts forever. Whatever Paul specifically thought his eternal prize was, the preceding verses seem to me to show what a focus Paul had towards this goal; he determined to preach the gospel free of charge, and to be all things to all people in order to save some. Paul was deeply and powerfully motivated by this eternal prize.
I believe God wants the same deep and powerful motivation for me. And I want the same deep and powerful motivation and discipline that Paul describes in himself here in 1 Corinthians. So I would do well to meditate on what this eternal prize and goal looks like, feels like, and is like, and shape my life around training hard for it.
God, help me to continue to clarify what this eternal prize is – this crown that lasts forever. I read of Paul’s motivation, discipline, and deep care for people, and I want the same. Help me uncover all that I need to from your word to live with similar motivation, discipline and care for people.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh