Athletics intrigued Paul the Apostle who often used competition as metaphors for Christian living. 1 Corinthians 9:24, 27 is a great example of this. “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.. 27 I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
I remember as an athlete that I always tried to keep the prize in mind. Why? It was the payoff for the sweat, the agony, the pain, the striving-to-get-better, the time commitment when you could be doing the fun things your friends were doing. My worst experience as an athlete was spring training for football. Why? Practices were a minimum of two-hours in duration in the humid spring weather of Georgia in hot sweaty, smelly uniforms when there was not a game to play on Friday night (high school) or Saturday afternoon (college). You practice tediously developing better fundamentals and drudgery of working on schemes without the prize of playing a real game and competing for an ultimate championship or a bowl game. I played at Georgia Tech. To get to practice, we had to walk from our locker room through fraternity row to get to our practice field. In the spring, many of the frat boys were lounging around outside soaking up rays with their girlfriends drinking their favorite beverages as I walked past them. Ugh! Often, I questioned why I was doing what I was doing!
As believers today, we cannot forget the prize of eternal life and think we are in spring training. We need to always keep this prize in our focus and work things backwards from there. Let’s not forget that what we do here on earth impacts our responsibilities in heaven. Take a look at and meditate on 2 Corinthians 5, 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Keep your focus on the prize of Jesus and eternal life and work life backwards from there.