“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” – Mathew 5:24 (NIV).
The Olympics are ever fascinating to watch. Over 10,000 athletes from around the world converge at one point in time to race and determine the best of their generation in one of the 400 events. Usually, this comes after years of hard training to capture the Olympic glory. One of the perennial sight of any Olympics is to see the rapturous joy of one who happens to win. But then there is also that pain quite obvious to the one who loses. Some break out in uncontrollable tears, and have to be comforted.
Incidentally, in his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul alluded to what makes a great Olympian. “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” (I Cor 9:24). Here, Paul, is reminding us never lose sight of the fact that in the Christian life, we are in a race, eagerly expecting a prize, at the end of our earthly journey.
Paul gives us a number of tips quite useful to win this race. First, he points out the importance of discipline. “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” (vv 25). One cannot expect to win an Olympic medal if they did not devote time to training for their event. This training often involves long and lonely moments in solicitude, but with the hope that years of struggle and self-sacrifice will bear fruits.
Likewise, to be productive the Christian life also involves those quiet and lonely moments of study and reflection, alone with God, which all flowers later in life culminating with the prize of eternal life.
Another equally deserving tip is focus. “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (vv 27). Today, one thing we can count on is there is no short of distractions. Our lives are ever increasingly faced with an invasion of all manner of tempting interests, some which once one get locked into, absorb us to a point of addiction.
Here, it could be social media or gambling; but everyone knows that new lure which takes all his time. To win the Christian race, one must be careful to sort out what matters and focus on the real stuff, perhaps best pointed out elsewhere by Paul, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:2).
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, just like an athlete who trains to compete in a race, for the glory of a prize, I pray that you help me focus, train and discipline my life, for the ultimate prize of eternal life, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.