1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Athletes who won in the Olympic Games at Olympia, in the Isthmian Games at Corinth, in the Pythian Games at Delphi, or in the Nemean Games in Argolis were the most honored people in the whole Greek community. Whether St. Paul ever watched the Isthmian Games at Corinth, I don't know, but I would not be surprised if he did. He was that kind of man. One thing he knew: the people to whom he was writing at Corinth knew all about the games there.
Discipline is part of that game. In modern life, there is too much of that aimless running about which accomplishes nothing except to wear people out. Following Christ, on the other hand, puts a man or woman on course. It provides a purpose for life. Following Christ enables people to find themselves and then to find each other at the same time.
St. Paul had a game plan for his life. He was going to follow Christ. As a man, Paul was not all strength with no weaknesses. He knew very well just where his weaknesses lay. But he had a game plan. He undertook to follow Christ: he was not going to run aimlessly. He was not shadow boxing. He was in training, like an athlete out to win: "I discipline my body and keep it under control," he writes, "lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
We are in this together as Christians, and we are going to win together. We help each other by using the gifts God has given us. We don't expect life to be handed to us on a "silver platter," to use a common saying; rather, we follow with resolution and determination in the steps of Christ, who gave Himself for us all.
And remember, errors are made even by the best players. Parents make mistakes, and so do their children. Don't let the thought of failure prevent you, my friends, from going for the prize. If you have not been in it before, get in the game, follow Christ. If you have tried hard and feel you have not succeeded, don't give up. Fight the good fight. Run the race with full determination. With Christ, you will obtain the prize.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, grant us the faith to run the race of life with bold determination as we follow Christ, in whose Name we pray. Amen.
From "Playing the Game," a sermon excerpt from Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"