Chances are all of us have a competitive streak about some things. I know for me I’m not really competitive when it comes to most sports, but if we play a Bible trivia I’m pretty determined to win. Of course that may be pride issue as much as a competitive issue. I’m pretty convinced that the preacher ought to win a game that involves Bible knowledge questions.
The competitive spirit that is within most of us can also be the source of a great deal of ugliness. We’ve probably all played with people that were so competitive that they took all the fun out of the game. When it was over you determined you would rather poke a sharp stick in your eye as play anything with them again.
Generally we associate a competitive spirit with games, sports and maybe academics. Most of us have probably never associated a competitive spirit Christianity. In fact we would probably say that a competitive spirit should have nothing to do with Christianity. But what if I told you that we are to have a competitive spirit when it comes to our devotion and service to Christ?
” 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. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)
Paul frequently uses athletic games as an illustration to describe the Christian life. In this passage he had in mind the Isthmian Games. These were a lot like the Olympics but were held every two years in Corinth. Athletes came from all over Greece to compete in these games for the coveted wreath made of laurel leaves. This was the equivalent to winning a gold medal today.
Paul takes something that was familiar to them and used it to illustrate the way believer’s are to live their lives. There are two ideas that really stand out to me. One is the idea of eternal rewards. Paul references this in verses 1-2. The other idea that stood out is that we don’t win these rewards by drifting through life. Instead must live intentionally to win eternal rewards. This week I’ll use this passage to show four ways to live intentionally to win eternal rewards.