“24 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. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 Rather, I beat my body to make it my slave, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Oh to gain that imperishable wreath of God’s glory! There have been so many things in the past year that have arrested my attention; so many things which have turned my feet and fists away from where they should be. I have run after the most momentary pleasures. I have lacked self-control. I have drooled over perishable wreaths as if they were something that I couldn’t live without.
Oh Christ save me from momentary passions! Set the imperishable wreath of heaven firmly in my mind’s eyes, so that I might run with endurance after it and it alone. Oh God, may I always be willing to run over the edge of bodily and present ruin if you would have me do so. Father, make me single minded in my pursuit. Ready my hands for battle and give strength to my legs that I might not grow weary. Wield your Sword of Truth in me that I might declare your glory to the nations, that every knee would bow at the great and mighty glory of your Name!
Praise the Name of Jesus! Praise the Name of Jesus! He’s my Rock! He’s my fortress! He’s my Deliverer; in Him will I trust!
So, my friend…how would we live if we actually believed that the imperishable wreath which God Himself offers to us were a reality? Quite frankly, it’s obvious that we don’t believe that. Either that or we believe that the worldly things we run after are just as important. If we examine how we spend our time and how we act, we rarely work so hard or spend so much time or desire so strongly to accomplish the imperishable things of Christ as we do working for and desiring temporary things. How much time will I spend with Christ next year? Tomorrow? Next semester? How much time will I spend in prayer, or in reading and memorizing the Word, and how much time will I spend on Facebook or leisure reading or whatever other mundane thing?
Will I sleep in late every chance I get, or will I wake up early every day so that I can spend time with my gracious Savior, who, in His mercy, saved me from eternal death by giving me the most eternal and glorious gift I will ever receive? Sleep, or blessed communion? Too often I have chosen sleep.
How many opportunities will I take to strengthen my self-control, and how many will I simply turn into an opportunity to do whatever I want to do? Will I glorify God, or satisfy myself? Far too often I have chosen to satisfy myself.
Will I run always towards the goal in Christ? Will I train myself for Godliness? Will I live in single-minded devotion to the Triune Creator-God to whom I have committed my life? Will you?
May the new year bring renewed conviction to serve the Lord Jesus Christ at the cost of my personal desires, comforts, and safety. May it bring redoubled efforts to discipline myself, beating my body to make it my slave in the pursuit to glorify Christ. And oh, may my glorious Lord and Redeemer be glorified and exalted in me, no matter what the cost.
Return quickly, Lord Jesus!