Season 1, Episode 47
For Wednesday, March 18, 2015
“Strive For Joy”
Welcome to The New You, where we focus on maintaining and accentuating the new that Christ has created in you. I’m Robert Hatfield, and here is today’s scripture:
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 (1 Cor. 9:24).
We studied yesterday from 1 Corinthians 9 about spreading the joy. We reminded ourselves that Christian joy is directly tied to the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul is talking about spreading the joy – sharing the gospel of Christ with as many people as possible.
Today, let’s turn our attention 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In this passage, Paul turns things around on himself and says that if he is going to teach others, he must be sure that he doesn’t lose his own joy. Today, let’s discuss striving for joy.
The Analogies (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Paul uses sports as an analogy for living the Christian life. The Corinthian Christians would have been very familiar with running, training, and receiving the crown. The great Isthmian Games were held every second year just about nine miles from Corinth. The competitors would train hard for ten months, then one month prior to the contests, the athletes would attend exercises at the gymnasium for final preparations.
Paul makes three analogies to the Christian walk. First, he tells them to run like a winner. Just as all compete but one receives the prize, Christians are to put everything they have into running the Christian race. Run like a winner!
Second, he tells them to train hard. Training takes sacrifice. Paul says, “everyone who competes for the prize is temperate” (1 Cor. 9:25). That word temperate refers to one who willingly sacrifices many rights in order to gain an advantage. They will adjust diet, exercise routines, and every part of their life in order to obtain the prize. What are you willing to change in your life to receive the imperishable crown of life?
Third, the crown awaits! Paul points their focus toward that imperishable crown at the end of verse 25. Only one person could win first place in the Isthmian Games, but Paul assures us in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 that everyone who is faithful will receive the crown of life in heaven!
Let’s wrap it up: Paul makes these three applications from the analogies. First, live PURPOSEFULLY. He says, “I run thus: not with uncertainty” (1 Cor. 9:26). He knew his goal and he purposefully moved toward it. Second, life EFFECTIVELY. He says, “I fight: not as one who beats the air.” In other words, he won’t waste precious time and energy on things that aren’t aligned with his goal; he won’t miss the mark. Third, life VIGOROUSLY. He writes, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, let, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). That word discipline literally means to beat black and blue. He will do and endure whatever it takes to accomplish the mission that Christ has set before him. He will not be deterred!
We should strive for joy! Do you have the joy of salvation in your heart? If so, then what are you doing to maintain that joy, to strive for it each day? Some challenging and powerful thoughts from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Memory Verse: This week’s verse is Jeremiah 6:16.
Thus says the LORD:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16).
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Tomorrow, let’s switch gears and answer this question: is it important to be a part of a local congregation of the church? I’ll meet you then for The New You.