“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 lasts forever.”- 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
The Concordia Self-Study Bible notes that the Corinthians were very familiar with foot races, as Corinth hosted the biennial Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympics in importance. John Ortberg (The Life You’ve Always Wanted) adds that for an athlete to simply “try hard” was unthinkable. Any athlete competing in the Isthmian Games was required to undergo 10 months of training and risked disqualification for not doing so.
Such preparation or training is essential when it comes to our spiritual lives as well. Learning the art of forgiveness, joy or courage goes hand in hand with developing a vibrant spiritual life. Pastor Ortberg applies this to his personal spiritual growth:
“For me, this truth brought light to the darkness. For the first time as an adult, I found the notion of following Jesus a real, concrete, tangible possibility. I could do it. Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit.” And, we might add, it’s the Holy Spirit’s power that makes this all possible!