August 3, Friday

“Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea”, a painting by James Tissot, c. 1890

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?

1 Corinthians 9:24.

What exertions sports stars undergo when training, and how hard they strive for victory! They renounce much of the pleasure of daily life, avoiding excesses, in order to be fit on the day and win. That is one side of the coin.

On the other hand, how soon the laurel wreath withers away! How quickly the fans forget the one time heroes and find others who are more proficient, until they, too, fall into oblivion. This is typical of earthly fame, which is transient.

There is another kind of contest. It will not bring the enthusiastic applause of the crowd, but something much greater instead: God’s agreement and favour. It is the Christian’s “good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). It is described in the Bible with its rules.

This “fight” does not enhance physical strength, although Christians know that they are responsible to God for their body. It strengthens the inner man and enables him to resist evil influences.

If anyone wants to absolve this “fight” successfully and obtain the prize of God’s approval, it is not enough just to claim to be a Christian. He must belong to Christ. Whoever does so through conversion and faith has received eternal life. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the power of that new life for the victorious fight of faith.

Image: By James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2006, 00.159.90_PS1.jpg, Public Domain,