It’s summer Olympics time again and all eyes are on Rio de Janeiro. Despite Brazil’s struggles to complete their Olympic facilities, the games have begun. It is amazing how disciplined each of our Canadian athletes are. They’ve trained for years and made many sacrifices. We wish them the best.
The New Testament writers used ancient athletic games to teach us about self-discipline and dedication. Perhaps the apostle Paul’s most well-known scripture about it is 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. He tells us to “run in such a way that you may win.” Not emphasizing competition, he is urging us to go through life as if running a race depended on our excellence. We aren’t to be sloppy or negligent about our responsibilities, attitudes or impressions we give to people. He is teaching us to be careful with others and never cause them to stumble because of poor attitudes or selfishness that we may display. “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.”
Paul reminds us that victorious athletes receive a prize, such as a medal and some fame (the ancients awarded wreaths); but we are aiming for an imperishable reward. It makes sense, then, to run the race seriously and to make our lives count. The apostle said that he would “buffet my body and make it my slave.” He mastered his body’s desires and never let them control what he did. It is a picture of a Christian who intended to excel for Jesus Christ.
This week, when you watch the Olympic athletes compete, think of your own life. Are you running well? How can you improve so that you will win?
– Tim Johnson