1 Corinthians 9:15-27
15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel. 19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 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. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for 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