EYES ON THE PRIZE
Draw me to your heart dear Lord. Guide my mind and use me for your glory and the welfare of others.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 9:19-27
Paul’s Use of His Freedom
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
The Need for Self-Discipline
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 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. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God for the gospel of Christ and for all it means to you.
We have a wonderful gospel but sometimes our church culture, especially a dogged commitment to ‘the way we do things here’, obscures it. Alternatively, people can be so keen to reach out that they water down the message, smoothing over its hard edges lest people are put off. Neither approach commends the gospel. Paul shows us a better way.
First, his commitment to the gospel is passionate and total (v 23). We are reminded not to lose confidence in the good news of Christ crucified and not to sugarcoat its challenges. As Paul said in chapter 1, the gospel may be ‘foolishness’ to some, but to those who ‘are being saved’ it is the power of God.1 Second, nothing should get in the way of people hearing the message. He sets out his approach in verses 19–23, with verse 22 as the key. The early church leader Irenaeus is one who sought to put this principle into practice. He was an expert in classical Greek who learned to preach in plain language because he wanted to reach ordinary people. He found he forgot some of his classical learning in the process! Paul and Irenaeus were willing to sit lightly to culture, status and dignity so that the gospel was not obscured. There are many cross-cultural missionaries today who seek to follow this principle, but it is a challenge for every believer.
To put cherished traditions and cultural commitments to one side for the sake of the gospel is not easy and it is no surprise that Paul uses the strict training regime of top athletes to illustrate what is required. How can he maintain such a life? He keeps his eyes on the prize (vs 24,27). The blessings of the gospel are great indeed (v 23). This unwavering focus will see us through.
‘All things to all people’ (see v 22). What changes is God calling you to make so you can reach out more effectively to others?
Lord Jesus, I daily need your help and grace. Infuse me with your enabling so I will be your authentic disciple.
1 1 Cor 1:18
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