August 29

1 Corinthians 9:24-25, 27 24Do 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. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

27... I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The Apostle Paul gave up whatever rights he needed to give up to connect with the people he was trying to win and teach. To him the most important thing was not his personal desires or advancement but the spiritual growth of those to whom he was ministering.

In this passage he compares his attitude toward ministry to a Greek athlete. An athlete doesn't do what is comfortable or take an easy route. He has a goal and denies himself to reach it. He puts boundaries on his desires and freedom so that he can reach that goal. He pushes himself to the very limits of his ability. Then when he is in the race, he gives it all he can to win. He ignores his body's demands and goes all out to win, and all he gets is a little momentary glory and a crown of leaves that soon decay. Paul was striving for an eternal crown and encourages us to do the same.

Paul wrote that he made his body his slave. He did not give in to its demands. He knew that if he did give in, he would not obtain the prize he was after. When the Greeks broke the training rules they were disqualified. Paul did not want to be spiritually disqualified. He worked late into the night to support himself when he thought the church might be offended if he asked for the support he deserved. What an example he set for us!

Is your body your slave or your master? Are you running for a temporal crown or an eternal one? Are you running to take first place or just jogging along comfortably? When we look at the ministry of the Apostle Paul, we see he really lived what he wrote. He was out to take first place. What pace have you set?

Consider: How would your life change if you went all out for your Savior?