Herald Journal Columns
May 1, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Training for the prize

Pastor Rick Messer, Howard Lake Christian Church

A few months ago, I enthusiastically went back to the gym. I soon discovered that my muscles were not as enthusiastic about the situation as I was.

In fact, they reminded me that due to a prolonged stay on muscle vacation, free from any physical exercise or strenuous activity, combined with a “light diet” (this is the diet that says “eat anything and everything when the lights are on”), they did not want to participate in this sudden urge and desire on my part to get back in shape.

But I insisted! That first day back at the gym, I lifted like there was no tomorrow!

The next day, all of my muscles informed me that they would be going on strike; and strike they did. I experienced pain every time I moved for a few days following that initial reunion of my muscles with weights.

Unfortunately, I would have never had to go through all the pain if I would have simply kept exercising to begin with. Some say that if I would have spent just 20 to 30 minutes each day exercising, I would have stayed in shape.

It’s amazing when you think about it. And the same is true for our spiritual health, as well.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NIV) “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. 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

What kind of training are you participating in when it comes to spiritual matters?

Don’t take me wrong. I know that physical exercise is important, but as Paul said in verse 25, that prize will not last forever. The spiritual exercise that you participate in will have eternal dividends.

So, are you training for the prize? Are you training for eternity, or the temporary?

When it comes to spiritual matters, are you running aimlessly, simply beating the air, and getting nowhere?

Then, why not start to train like you mean it? Let me offer a few suggestions for spiritual training success in your life:

• Set aside a time to train. Just like physical exercise, you need to do this for spiritual training, too.

• Give yourself some goals. It has been said, “aim at nothing and you will hit nothing.” Goals are important.

Maybe a goal could be to complete a book of the Bible before starting another one; or to be faithful in attending worship on a day other than Christmas or Easter. Or, how about taking notes on the sermons at church?

• Remain committed. Don’t quit when the going gets tough. Finish what you start.

• Remember the prize. It’s not temporary, but eternal.

Paul told the young preacher Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV), “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Our prize is the life to come. May you be found faithful as you train for that prize.

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