Photo: Tim Hipps, U.S. Army IMCOM Public Affairs
From the Word
23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, 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 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:23–27, RSV
Paul here presents a forcible simile in the running of a race, or the strife for the prize. Many run without obtaining the object of their pursuit. But we should not run in vain. To follow Christ faithfully does not simply mean to run. We must run to some purpose. To believe that we are running in Christ’s course will not suffice; we must lay hold of eternal life. “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”Running is hindered in two
ways. First, by insolence. When our faith is not exercised and we are indolent in good works, our progress is hindered and the prize is not attained. While men sleep the enemy sows tares. Secondly, when individuals pursue their aim at full speed, but are deluded by phantoms, they miss their aim and rush to ruin, or run up against fearful obstacles. Hence the race is hindered when a false goal is set up, or the true one removed.
The goal is removed when the Word of God is falsified and creations of the human mind are preached under the name of God’s Word. These things come about when we are not careful to keep the unity of the spirit, and when each one follows his own ideas because he prefers his own conceit. Paul calls love the unity of the spirit, and admonishes to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.
He who in the Christian contest seeks his own glory and profit, who finds in the Word and Spirit of God occasion for his own praise and advantage, cannot expect to win. He is wholly entangled, and bound hand and foot. Under such conditions false and indolent Christians run indeed a merry race; but God’s Word and ways are merely a pretense, because they subserve their own interests and glory. They never make a serious attempt, nor do they ever hit the mark. So run, that ye may obtain
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.
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