"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. 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
He speaks of the single mindedness of competition and yet in the verses before he extols the flexibility and adaptability of communication and identification.
"To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:21-23 ESV
Have you ever heard an athlete extol the virtues of perceived weakness?? If anything athletes (and fans) talk more 'smack' than any people on the planet. They ooze confidence and even belittle one another in humor to display the advantage.
Only one wins the race... only one... that part always sticks with me. Who is that one in light of scripture? Who won the race? Who finished the work? Who competed and reigns as victor.
Are we running to be the winner or are we running as winners because we see something from the above sight that I talked about in the previous post? I must have a single-mindedness like an athlete does, that is clea,r but what am I seeing? What is my focus? What is my victory?
"For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" 1 John 5:4-5 ESV
Our victory is a finished work victory and our race is a finished work race. Only one wins... only one has won.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31 KJV
Do we see it? If we see it and ask God we can have fire that does not consume the our frail human nature. We are like the burning bush that Moses saw... it puts off no smoke and remains fresh and unchanged by the flames. The source of it's light is vision and not human fuel. It is seen so that God can be heard.
"And on the lampstand itself there shall be four cups made like almond blossoms, with their calyxes and flowers, ... And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain." Exodus 25:34, 40 ESV
Somehow God showed Moses how he saw the tabernacle and then Moses had that above sight and God added people who had His Spirit resting on them... divinely skilled people to do the work.
We see the pattern of a risen Savior in Heaven. A man who moved from person to person winning souls in the Gospel of John and now dons the golden crown. With that pattern the appearance of weakness does not threaten our victory.
God please take the victory we are standing in and place it on our heads this morning. Help us to speak faith and not let our natural dictate to us our state of mind. You are our victory. Quicken us. Give us mental fortitude apart from striving. Give us confidence apart from boasting. Help us to present grace apart from any hint of work. Let us live in the victory that has been won.