“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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27, NIV)
Excellence, discipline, and humility.
We extol these three qualities in any athlete. Likewise, these three qualities together are essential for faithful discipleship.
Are we living our lives — every hour of every day — “in such a way as to get the prize,” which is life in all of its fullness and length? Are we engaged in the private, hidden, work of “training”– in the words of Paul to his protege Timothy: “to study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”? (2 Timothy 2:15)
Paul’s words remind us to aspire to excellence in all that we do. He reminds us to adopt the discipline of “strict training” so that we will be prepared for any of the so-called surprises of life, and fit to finish the course. He reminds us to be humble, lest we ourselves are disqualified as the price of our pride.
Excellence + Discipline + Humility = Faithful discipleship. – Luther