The Apostle Paul addressed this letter to the Corinthians. Corinth
was a business centre in Greece. Paul preached the gospel there and it was wonderful. Then
he left to continue his journey, travelling the world and planting churches. He
didnt forget those who were left behind. He kept writing letters to them. He always
remembered them in prayer, urging them to continue in the Lords work. He desired
that each one would go forward to achieve the goal. Sometimes he disciplined them and
sometimes he strengthened and comforted them.
Close to Corinth there was a place where there were competitions
and games and until today we have those games called the Olympics. Once every three years
there would be this competition. There were different events like running, riding horses,
racing chariots or throwing heavy objects or javelin. The one who came first received a
prize. Everyone who competed in the games tried to win this prize. The big prize was
obtained by only one person. Paul says like them we should run the race and compete in the
same way. If you want to succeed you need to be a trained, disciplined Christian. Those in
the competition would train and train for years so that when the big competition came and
many competed they might be able to win. Paul said we must run like they do in the games
running properly because you cannot compete if you dont compete according to
the rules (2Tim 2:5). It is sad that many Christians dont compete in that way. Some
claim to be Christians but they look around at what others do and they are not focused.
However some say with Paul, "For Jesus sake I have lost everything"
(Phillip 3:8). He wasnt sidetracked by how others ran, he ran so that he would win
the prize. When it was close to his death he said he had run the race, kept the faith and
looked forward to the prize (2Tim 4:7).
The story is told of a king who had a beautiful daughter. Men
wanted to marry this princess. So the king said to those who wanted to marry the princess
that he would test them. They would run to a certain point and back. The one who came
first would receive the hand of the princess. Along the race, the king placed a golden
shoe that was sparkling in its beauty and polished like a mirror. One young man ran
enthusiastically. He looked sure to become the son-in-law of the king. As he ran he saw a
glittering object in the distance was. He thought that it looked like a lump of gold. He
turned off the track and found the golden shoe. He was very sure that it was real gold.
Suddenly he saw the others running past him. He realized that he was looking at the shoe
and not running the race. He put his all in but the others had passed him by. One was far
in front. He realized that he had lost the princess. Let us learn from him. On the way
there are distractions to distract us so that we dont get the prize. He had been
sidetracked by a piece of gold. Demas had been running well but on the way he was
distracted by the world (2Tim 4:10). It is not to receive an earthly prize because the
Bible says faith is better than gold for gold will also fade (1Pet 1:7). The person who is
sidetracked by earthly things is not wise.
A famous Baptist preacher in America liked to preach about heaven.
He called heaven the no land no sickness, no troubles, no tears. We are
fools to stick to these earthly things. As he was dying, he said, "I have been
speaking about the glories of heaven but the reality is far greater than what I have
said." We only touch the hem of the garment. But in heaven we will fully understand.
The Bible says if we overcome we will be seated with Him on his throne (Rev 3:21). Think
of that no more disease or death but to partake of the heavenly kingdom of God. The
thief said, "Remember me when you enter paradise" (Luke 23:42). The heavenly
prize cannot be expressed in words at all. The breadth, the height and depth cannot be put
in words. Jesus said, "if you have lost anything for My sake it will be given to you
multiple times in heaven" (Mark 10:28-30). We would be fools if we replace the
heavenly prize for the things of this world that perish. Paul says that he strives so that
he would be there. Paul was trying to strengthen and keep them from losing out what is
What thrills me is that each one of us can win the prize. I heard
of something that happened in a certain church. There was a troublesome woman. She was a
harassment to the church because of her tongue. Her slander caused friction and caused
things to be upside down. The pastor was trying to put out the fire. Even when the
preacher approached her it didnt help. He was desperate because she was like a
serpent and a serpents child. He said, "Mrs so-and-so I want you to visit
me." He gave her a chicken and said, "I want you to walk a certain route with
the chicken and pluck all the feathers out and come back without one feather left on the
chicken." It was a windy day. She returned. The pastor asked, "Did you do
it?" She said, "Yes." Then he said, "But now lady I want you to go and
collect every single feather." She said, "I could never do that. The feathers
have scattered everywhere." He replied, "When you gossip it will spread
everywhere and you cannot gather it again".
If you want to run according to the rules, be quick to listen and
slow to speak (James 1:19). Go to the person that is doing wrong and challenge that
person. Should he not listen call another and a third person and if he doesnt listen
bring him before the church (Matt 18:15-17). Gossipers do not speak in a persons
presence. They are running but are disqualified. If you cant challenge a person
directly go to your pastor.
How are you running? Would you rather die than commit sin? John
the Baptist challenged the king who had taken his brothers wife (Mark 6:18), and
eventually died because of his courageous stand.
God will look to the one who has a broken and contrite spirit (Is
66:2). Does this touch you? Do you tremble at Gods word? Do you truly fear the Most
High (Matt 10:28)? If there is a storm of thunder and lightening, some are suspicious and
others tremble. But do you tremble for Him who made the sky? When God speaks it should
cause you to tremble and say you cant continue with sin any more. If it is not like
this, you belong to satan.
Are you running according to the heavenly rules in this Book. If
not this is your opportunity to get right with God. How terrible if you leave and continue
with your lying and immorality and gossip. Rather turn from your evil and be saved.