I recently met a woman who has pushed her body and mind to the limit. She climbed mountains, faced death, and even broke a Guinness world record. Now she’s engaged in a different challenge—that of raising her special-needs child. The courage and faith she employed while ascending the mountains she now pours into motherhood.
In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul speaks of a runner competing in a race. After urging a church enamored with their rights to give consideration to one another (ch. 8), he explains how he sees the challenges of love and self-sacrifice to be like a marathon of endurance (ch. 9). As followers of Jesus, they are to relinquish their rights in obedience to Him.
As athletes train their bodies that they might win the crown, we too train our bodies and minds for our souls to flourish. As we ask the Holy Spirit to transform us, moment by moment, we leave our old selves behind. Empowered by God, we stop ourselves from uttering that cruel word. We put away our electronic device and remain present with our friends. We don’t have to speak the last word in a disagreement.
As we train to run in the Spirit of Christ, how might God want to mold us today?
Lord, let me not demand my rights, but train to win the prize that lasts forever.
Amy Boucher Pye is a writer, editor, and speaker. The author of Finding Myself in Britain: Our Search for Faith, Home, and True Identity, she runs the Woman Alive book club in the UK and enjoys life with her family in their English vicarage.
Training leads to transformation.
Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church emphasizes the distinction between wisdom and folly and how in Christ God accomplishes His redemptive plan in unexpected ways (see 1:18–3:23). This letter also contains practical advice and everyday wisdom, as seen in today’s passage. Through two different metaphors (a runner and a boxer), Paul reminds the Corinthians that doing anything—especially following Christ—without a goal in mind is the height of foolishness. A runner with no destination will simply tire and quit, and a boxer beating the air never puts his training to practical use. We follow Christ to become like Him and receive the prize.