Today’s bible study is 1 Corinthians 9:25-26: Everyone 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.
These words written by Paul in his first letter to the people of Corinth remind us of training for a sporting event, a football or baseball game, or the Olympics. But these are not the games of which Paul wrote.
Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explain this theme of preparation or training as one frequently used by writers of the classics. The word which is rendered is ‘temperate’ (ἐγκρατευεται egkrateuetai) and denotes abstinence from all that would excite, stimulate, and ultimately enfeeble; from wine, from exciting and luxurious living, and from licentious indulgences. It means that they did all they could to make the body vigorous, active, and supple.
It relates not only to indulgences unlawful in themselves, but to abstinence from many things that were regarded as "lawful," but which was believed to render the body weak and effeminate. The phrase "in all things" means that this course of temperance or abstinence was not confined to one thing, or to one class of things, but to every kind of food and drink, and every indulgence that had a tendency to render the body weak and effeminate.
This may be a bit deep and difficult to understand, yet it is really quite simple. It means that whatever we are preparing for, training for, competing for, or working so hard for will be a temporary win, a transient flash of glory, and a momentary surge of pride. It will not last.
We all have moments in our lives when we feel that we have won, whether in sports, school, work, writing, our profession, in the arts or music, or in any one of thousands of small ways each day. It can be as simple as a meal well prepared or a shirt ironed. For a fleeting moment, we are happy, content and quite self-satisfied. And, rightly we should be. These “Hooray me!” moments add a bit of jot to our lives nearly every time they occur, whether they are large or small.
But they are transient. The glory will soon be forgotten, the flush of pride will pale, and the warmth of joy will be gone. Eventually, most will be forgotten, never to be remembered or relived.
So, how do we gain permanence of winning and championship in our humble existence? It can be done only through God and through our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. The works we do in the sight of God will never pale and the radiance of the love of our Father will never leave us. These are treasures of the greatest value that will remain with us throughout our lives and beyond. If we concentrate on training out spirits in the ways of Jesus, we are preparing ourselves for whatever may befall us. We are becoming stronger and more ready day by day. We are eating the spiritual food and running the spiritual path. We are composing the song of the psalmist and radiating the light of true followers of Jesus.
May we enjoy our transient achievements, and continue to pursue them. But, even more, may we ever be in training for our Lord Jesus, so that we may compete for the ultimate prize that is the kingdom of God.
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