Have you ever received any trophies or ribbons for a sports competition and/or extracurricular activity? If so, which one was the most impactful for you? I received my most meaningful reward when I was a sophomore in High School. Our swim team participated in a weekend meet called The House of Champions. It took place at the Indianapolis Natatorium, home to the former Olympic trials. At one time, it was the fastest pool in the world. Our relay team was the underdog, and yet we won the 200 freestyle relay races against six good high school teams. I was proud of my team because we spent that whole winter training ourselves for this big event.
God tells us in his word that many people spend their whole lives in strict physical training to compete in the games to get a crown, a trophy, and a medal that only lasts for the moment. How much more should we go into spiritual training since our crown is imperishable and everlasting? He states here in 1 Cor. 9:24-25: “Do you 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. 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.
Paul’s point is to encourage believers to have more single-mindedness, determination, and perseverance in our spiritual strength than in our physical condition. 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” and “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).” What practical steps can you take to become stronger in your spiritual race? That’s the most important question we should be asking ourselves.