Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Athletes are willing to push themselves harder and longer and farther than anyone else. They strive to bring their bodies and minds completely under control so that they excel and receive a prize. Others go home to relax, but athletes continue to train. While most people protect themselves from any form of discomfort, athletes push themselves to the limits of their endurance. While some remain satisfied with mediocre performance, athletes pay any price for excellence. Paul said that despite their most valiant efforts, the athletes’ successes and prizes are eventually forgotten. Even the greatest athletic achievements have not affected eternity.
If an athlete can be motivated to make incredible sacrifices for a perishable reward, how much more ought Christians to strive for an imperishable one? If an athlete will labor day after day in order to receive glory from others, how much harder ought Christians to work for the “well done” of their Master? Are you striving to bring your body into subjection for the glory of God? Are you training your mind to think the thoughts of God rather than thoughts of the world? Are you disciplining your life in prayer? When others are sleeping, are you interceding? Have you studied God’s word so diligently that you are prepared to find answers to the challenges you face? Have you equipped yourself in evangelism so that you are ready to share your faith? Have you prepared yourself as a Christian in order to qualify for the imperishable crown that awaits you?