The apostle Paul appealed to the Christians in Corinth by comparing their lives to the races of the Isthmian games. As the runners conditioned their bodies to win a perishable wreath, so the Corinthians should strive to win a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:25). When I first read this verse, I thought that Paul was being naÃ¯ve. Who cares about winning a wreath or a crown? The athletes in Corinth didn't train so they would have something to wear on their heads. Like our Olympic athletes, they toiled for the pride, fame, and wealth that came from winning gold.
Then it struck me that Paul's argument was brilliant. While athletes race for more than a wreath that will wither or a medal that will tarnish, even the renown and money that accompany these trophies will eventually fade. Can you name any of the winners of the Isthmian games? How many Corinthian coins do you have?
As the Isthmian games delivered trophies that were more than a wreath (and yet nearly as short-lived), so the race we're running rewards us with an everlasting prize that is much more than a mere crown.
Paul told the church in Philippi that this prize is to "gain Christ and become one with Him," for "everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." He wanted "to know Christ" so that He might receive Jesus' righteousness and resurrection power (3:8-10). According to John Calvin, "as long as Christ remains outside of us . . . all that He has suffered and done . . . remains useless and of no value to us." But when we are one with Jesus, all of His benefits become ours.
Our goal is not crowns but Christ. It's to know and love Jesus, and to be known and loved by Him. , Mike Wittmer, Our Daily Journey
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