“Do you not now that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
Have you ever run so hard in a race that your body fell to the ground right after you crossed the finish line?
You gave it your all.
You were focused on the prize.
You knew it would cost you everything for that victory.
The Bible talks about how our lives are like a race—that is, an endurance race filled with various terrains and circumstances that require endurance and focus.
In the race of life, we have an incredible opportunity to let every moment be an act of worship to our Creator.
God designed us to worship.
Moreover, we are designed to worship Him all the way to the finish line by racing to the best of our ability and giving it our all.
In this race of life, we have one shot.
There are no makeup races, no practice races, but just the race that is set before you.
Knowing this, how are you going to run?
Worship While Training
In the Bible, God is spoken of as a God of endurance and encouragement.
In his letter to the church in Corinth (Rom 15:5), Paul challenged the Christians with these words, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Cor 9:24, ESV).
How do you run in a way to obtain the prize?
Paul continues and says, “Every athlete exercises self control in all things” (1 Cor 9: 25, ESV).
When I was training for the Triathlon World Championship race in Edmonton, Canada, I was focused on training to the best of my ability.
As I trained, I worshiped God by giving thanks to Him, praying, training hard, singing songs that focused my mind on Him, and enjoying His creation around me.
Training smart and working hard (being comfortable at being uncomfortable), eating healthy foods to fuel your body and recovering well with stretching and enough sleep all can be an act of worship to God when done with the right heart posture: giving glory to God.
Worship Through Focus
Pursuing a victory in a race or on the sports field is an excellent goal to have.
For this to happen, we need to have focus.
Colossians 3:23 (ESV) says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men.”
Paul demonstrated through his actions how he lived his life with a razor sharp focus on God’s priorities so he could accomplish the tasks God had set out for him to do.
In college, on the rowing team, I lived my life with the same razor-sharp focus to win our races.
Everything I did filtered through this question: is this going to help me and my boat win?
Our boat ended up winning nationals.
I was committed and dedicated to the prize and it was done as an act of worship to Him to glorify His name.
That said, it is important to note that we do not run as hard as we can for our salvation.
Our salvation and value is not determined by how much we do, but rather by what Christ did on the cross, “…for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal 2:21, ESV).
Nevertheless, our life of focus on the prize can be an act of worship to God.
Worship to the End
Following Jesus and being His disciple is the best decision you can ever make in this race of life.
Paul reminds us that as a Christian, this race will result in an imperishable wreath of victory rather than a temporal, fading crown of victory that could be achieved in the sports world because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross.
How can we live our lives in such a way that we give it our all for the One who gave His all for us?
Our lives are to be one act of worship to our King who died for our sins and rose triumphantly from the grave, conquering sin and death and giving us access to God in one Spirit through our faith in Him.
May we run our race in life remembering the promises of God that in all circumstances that may come on our course in life we can be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
I pray that each of us in this one life, this one race He has given us, run with all our heart.
I pray we run in such a way that as we cross the finish line of life, the only thing we can do is fall down before Jesus and worship our God who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Hebrews 12:3, Isaiah 41:28-31, Proverbs 21:26, Romans 12:1.
Prayer and Reflection Questions:
- Consider the verse 1 Corinthians 10:31: So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
In what specific ways can you worship and give glory to God today in your training?
- Worshiping God is not only an outward position of lifting our hands or singing songs of praise to God, but it is also a position of the heart.
What is taking the attention of your heart right now?
Ask the Lord to reveal anything that is interfering with your undivided devotion and worship to Him.
- How does the gospel impact our worship to God?