Striving for an imperishable crown

Striving for an imperishable crown
Photo Pro Church Media / Unsplash
Jon Taylor Jon Taylor is an evangelist/liaison officer for Messianic Testimony, an associate of the Open Air Mission and a researcher for the Reachout Trust.
01 August, 2011 4 min read
‘And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown’ (1 Corinthians 9:25).

Many of us are avidly awaiting the London Olympics in 2012. Nowadays the winners of such competitions receive medals, whereas in the ancient Olympics the victors acquired an olive wreath.

Greece held a four year cycle of athletic contests, with the Isthmian Games, the Olympic Games, another Isthmian Games, and then the Pythian Games. The Corinthian believers would relate especially to the Isthmian Games, since those were held in their own locality.

Disciplined regime

Qualification for competing in the games was rigorous. Greek birth had to be attested, as well as a clean legal status and proof of ten months training.

This training was intense, with athletes single-mindedly engaging in a strict physical regime and abstaining from those luxuries that would hinder progress. They had to compete by the rules.

Similarly, in the Christian life, spiritual health requires prayer, studying God’s Word, fellowship with other believers, sacrificial love and holiness unto God.

Paul implores the Corinthian Christians to run in such a way that they could obtain the prize. He stresses the totality of the lifestyle that strives for the imperishable crown — every Christian runs; everyone competes and is to be temperate in all things (1 Corinthians 9:24). The Christian is not running to secure salvation, but to secure heavenly rewards.

The industrious farmer will reap what he sows. Many today sow only to material things, like a mortgage, education or family, but spiritual sowing is an infinitely wiser and more prosperous investment.

Paul also used athletic and military metaphors in his teaching. In 2 Timothy 2:3-6 he describes the good soldier of Jesus Christ as needing to be wise enough to avoid becoming entangled in civilian affairs. Soldiering is a lifestyle. There is no room for divided loyalties and constant vigilance is a necessary requirement.

Enduring blessings

Young Timothy was reminded that ‘bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and is to come’ (1 Timothy 4:8).

New: the ET podcast!