Running For the CROWN!

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Paul exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 that we are to run this race that is set before us to win not just to finish. Those who win will receive a price...a reward...a crown!  I don’t know about you but I want a crown…not an earthly perishable crown but an imperishable one that I can cast down at the feet of my Jesus in worship and adoration. To obtain this imperishable crown there are certain requirements that Paul lists for us. We are instructed to first be "temperate" or self-controlled in not just some things...but Paul says "in all things" All means all! All areas of our life are to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we are to not be SELF-CONTROLLED, but GOD-CONTROLLED. God wants to be in control of our lives, our will and our bodies. This takes constant surrender of our will for His…our ways for His…our desires for His desires.

 Which leads us to the next key to the crown, Certainty. In verse 26…Paul says; “ Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty thus I fight; not as one who beats the air…” To be certain…one needs to be focused and sure of what their goal is and willing to fight for it! To run with certainty we cannot be distracted therefore we must remember 3 specific instructions that all runners must heed...

1. don’t look back,
2. stay in your lane 
3. don’t drop the baton or you will be disqualified.

 As Christians we are not to look back lest we get tripped up by the world  because looking back always slows you down….remember Lots wife…she looked back at the world with longing and it not only slowed her down…but she was turned into a pillar of salt. When we get saved, we come out of the world…we are loosed from its hold on us and we are to go forward and not look back.The bible says we are to put to death the old man…or old women in our case…we are not to bring her along in our journey with Jesus. It’s also very important as we run our race that we stay in our lane. Don’t look around you…lest you lose your focus. Jesus has called you and me to our individual, unique callings in life and we are to do those to the best of our ability for Him. Often times when we start looking at others and comparing ourselves we get tripped up, and slowed down…and we may even occasionally stumble and fall.

As you run with purpose, temperance and certainty, remaining focused you then will hit the final requirement to the crown...DISCIPLINE! Paul says in verse 27; “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

 “Discipline… says Elizabeth Elliot, …is the believer’s answer to God’s call.” It's the recognition of God’s master plan in our lives we can take it or leave it…its up to us. As Believers we are constantly trying to be more disciplined in our quiet time, in prayer, in eating, exercise, or whatever it is to you…you fill in the blank. At times, it seems we are going around in circles with discipline…sometimes we have it and other times we don’t. We live in a day of continual distraction with Iphones, and social media…it’s hard to be focused unless we’re disciplined to put everything down to follow hard after Jesus! The disciplined life is a life committed to Christ by learning His word…living His Word…and loving his Word! The disciplined life is a life of death…a life of picking up the cross and following Jesus. I think sometimes we forget the cross...the instrument that we so easily identify with is an instrument of death. The problem when identifying with the cross is that things often get hard the closer we walk with Jesus…that’s when we give up! Instead of pressing in...we give in... to trials and temptations. Instead of receiving the power to overcome we are overcome. The key is found in a disciplined life. A life that is focused on Jesus and determined to receive the prize. If we are to win...we must no compromise lest we get disqualified! Kay Smith said; "Set your standards high...and raise them higher!" If you want the crown you must rise to the occasion...stay focused, be temperate in all things, certain of what you are running for...not looking back, stepping out of your lane, or dropping the baton. And finally, you must be willing to bring your body, your life and your spirit into complete subjection to Jesus...recognizing that He has a great plan in mind for you if you will but run with purpose, passion and preparation.