1 Corinthians 9:25 "Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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."
Anticipation filled the air as names were called. Parents and friends clapped as students came forward to receive their certificates.
One mom felt a tear trickle down her cheek as her boys came to the front to be recognized. Pride and joy filled her heart as their commitment and perseverance were shown for their endeavors. This mother was me.
As my boys received their awards I began to reflect how it took them so long to complete what they did. Their efforts were not a one-time event, like a math or grammar assignment. It took months of strength, determination, commitment, and perseverance for them to attain what they finished.
At times, tears were shed over the difficulty of the task at hand. They wanted to give up a time or two, but they pushed forward, facing the difficulty head on. They were faithful to finish and their goal was accomplished. In the end, the reward was worth their effort.
When I consider the here and now it forces me to ask some questions. As Christians, what keeps us moving forward? What encourages us to press on? Let's face it, life is hard. Tears can slide down our cheeks over the challenges each day unfolds. Periodically, even giving up appears a viable option for some.
Do we really believe in the end, that our reward is worth the effort?
Philippians 3:12-14 says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
There are several points to consider that Paul shows us through this passage:
- Paul persevered despite his circumstances. He writes from prison in Rome, yet he was determined to obtain the goal for which God called him. Paul didn't consider hardship a hindrance. His hope was anchored in Christ and he was faithful to finish.
- Paul wants to take hold of what Christ took hold of him. Vs. 9-11 show Paul's understanding that his righteousness came through Christ and not the law. He has not attained the resurrection of the dead, although this, and his perfection, is his future culmination when Christ returns.
- Paul had to forget the past so he could focus on the goal at hand. Paul knew he couldn't have divided loyalties. If he focused on the past, whether good or bad, it would inhibit his present. He willfully chose to look ahead to the work God had for him.
- Paul reveals the effort required in 'straining toward' this goal. He exerted energy which reveals the need to be active in this pursuit of the prize. Paul believed the race wasn't finished until his life expired so he continued to reach forward to the finish line.
- Paul believed the reward was worth the effort. Paul's participation in the Christian life was to receive an eternal crown. Because of Christ's sacrifice, he was motivated to progress forward in his faith. He knew what awaited him, so he persisted to obtain it.
- Paul continually strived to advance God's Kingdom. He eagerly pursued Kingdom living. Instead of satisfying self, he sacrificed self to progress the furtherance of the Gospel. His passion and mission was to do the work of God and his labor in the Lord was not in vain.
- Our hope overshadows our heartaches.
- Look ahead, not behind.
- Effort is expected if we are to finish well.
- Our prize is worth our persistence.
- Focus on the furtherance of the Gospel.
Olympic Gold Medals, Nobel Peace Prizes and the Pulitzer's will soon be forgotten. The Stanley Cup, NBA Championship, and World Cup will be insignificant. Our reward is worth our effort. Our heavenly crown lasts forever.
Do not give up friends. Finish well. Persist!
Ask God to strengthen you as you persevere through the each day. Rely on His Holy Spirit to comfort you when discouraged and to motivate you forward. Press On!!!
What is the greatest award or accomplishment you have ever received? How does it compare to your heavenly crown awaiting you?
When are you tempted to give up? What pushes you forward?
Of the six points mentioned above, which one challenges you the most?
Heart Transforming Word:
Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
Hebrews 10:36 "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."
Hebrews 12:1 "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
James 1:3-4 "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
Luke 8:15 "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."
Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. Edited 2012. All rights reserved.