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How are you Running?

The Apostle Paul gives a great illustration in 1 Cor 9:24-27:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

What Paul is saying is that - in this life - he makes it his ambition to run with such a determination so as to win the prize. He knows that there are many others who are running. He knows that the race is large. The stadium is packed. The sounds are deafening. Yet Paul uses this athletic analogy to get his point across.

In the Isthmian games, the winner of the race would receive a wreath (stephanos) and be hoisted up on an elevated platform as a symbol that they have won the competition.

Paul says, I run - not to receive this perishable wreath (though the glory and joy may be exciting - it only lasts for a moment), rather I run to receive the imperishable wreath. How does Paul do that? He boxes in such a way as though not beating the air. He has purpose in what he does. He has a deliberate action and game-plan for his life. Furthermore, Paul buffets his body. The word here for "buffet" is hupopiazo. hupopiazo has the idea of striking something in the face with a blow; tormenting something; treating roughly; to beat something with the result that it is black and blue. In early Christian literature, the word was used to refer to cities that were terribly scourged and affected by war, thus being a public spectacle and showing their desolation.

Paul uses this analogy of "beating" his body and make it his slave and then he says, "after I have preached to others." Paul lives his Christian walk with such an intense zeal. He has his goal on the eternal. He is looking not only to the finish line, but what is past the finish line.

How also in the same way ought we to be people who "buffet" our bodies. We must have single focused ambition in this life - to live to the glory of God (cf. 1 Cor 10:31).

To make the practical connection, as I was talking with Elizabeth last night, we reiterated our mutual desire to first and foremost keep the Lord Jesus Christ not only center in the relationship, but most importantly, center in each of our individual lives. Our goal and privilege in dating each other is to draw each other to Christlikeness. I want to serve her and love her and shepherd her in any way that I can so that she will personally experience Jesus Christ with greater zeal, joy and passion. I want Elizabeth to long for God's Word and for biblical food each day. So, in a word, I want to buffet my body for godliness. I want to train so hard and push my body so hard, and be 110% fighting for godliness - not Elizabeth. Elizabeth comes after the Lord, after my zeal and pursuit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ps 34:3 - "Glorify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together."

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