Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Corinthians 9:24).

What does Paul mean by this verse?  Does Paul mean that there is only one winner in the Christian race?  Does he mean that there are ways to run to win the race?  What exactly is he trying to teach the Christian?

Paul in describing the Christian race uses two illustrations: The runner and the fighter. Two things should come to our mind; both a runner and a fighter aim to win in the game, hence both can be liking to Christianity "fighting the good fight of faith'' (2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Timothy 6:12).

The Romans and Corinthians is well known for their passion and affection for games.  They are known for hosting  Games almost every three years, where slaves master among others compete to the cheering of the masses. Paul explained that though many contest but only one person win, depending on how they run.

From Paul explanation, many will run but not all will win, so running is not winning. In any race there are going to be those who will win and those who lose.  You don’t get the prize just because you ran in the race. You only get the prize if you win. For one thing, you have to finish the race in order to win.  Only the people that knows the truth and practice the truth will win the heavenly race. Jesus says, "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Mathew 7:14); many are called, but few are chosen (Mathew 22: 14). Paul writes, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Today many preacher/suppose soldiers of Christ has twisted the word to suit their audience, because of fame, power, money and praise to the detriment of their souls. Some will tell you we are in the era of grace deceiving themselves. And you shall know the truth, and it shall set you free (John 8:32). Seek the truth, for it is the only thing that can set you free.

Running to win takes some principles and strategies as identified by Paul in Verse 25-27


Paul in the preceding verse 25-27 gave practical steps to winning the race. One thing I love about God is that, when he command you to serve, he will also give you guideline and grace to serve. The principles of running successfully includes the following:

Self-Control/ Discipline:  And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things (9:25). This principle means that for one to win any race, one must be discipline, devoted, train very hard, forgo pleasures others enjoy. The heavenly race require, resolute of mind, a lot of sacrifice. We are to make our lives as "living sacrifices" (Romans 12:1,2). We need to keep ourselves mentally prepared as well. We "renew" our minds in Bible study and meditation (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to constantly pray and watch the event of time, the end is here and you are still joking. (Luke21:36). 

Clear Goal and Objective: They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable (9:25).

In any game people train hard, discipline, get focus, ready to die because of the prize; Gold, Bronze or medal. Peter described our goal as "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven.." (1 Peter 1:4). Paul was able to talk about having done what it takes to reach this goal (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul said, eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9).

A clear goal will not allow us to be distracted by the affair of this world. Keep renewing every day, "`Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.'' (1 Corinthians 10:12). We are told to seek the kingdom/righteousness of God first (Matthew 6:33). Love God only and hate the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17). Until you serve God unconditionally, not because of his blessing towards you, nor because of your pastor or the praise of men, you can't win the race. 

Running Efficiently: I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air
This principle implies that we should run the race and fight the fight to finish with all sincerity and love, not wasting our energy on irrelevant things of these earth that can exhaust our time and effort. It depict a team work, where all the player and runner can help each other in the race. Christianity, is not an individual race as people often see it. Iron sharpen iron, in the same way we ought to help each other to grow as one body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). 

Principle of Disqualification: I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (9:27).

In every game those who break the rule are disqualified. The boxer must stay in the ring and the runner must stay in the proper track. To break the rules is to forfeit the contest.
To win the incorruptible crown, we must obey all God's command, not subtracting or adding.  Simply put, we must obey God  commandment (Matthew 7:21). It is the words of Christ that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). That is why the bible says, that many are called but few are chosen,,,,,  Jesus says, in that day, many we say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast demons in your name and do many mighty work in your name, and I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evil doers. (Mathew 7: 22-23).

 Remember, We can only run a successful race through God's grace that emanates from our love for God's work. Don't be deceived, distraction must come, temptation must come, the love of worldly thing must come, difficulties must come,,, but in all these only the victor will have the incorruptible crown. So to win you must kill your flesh, be dead to flesh desire, be dead to sin and alive to righteousness. 

Running the race entails preaching the gospel of Christ, how many people have you talked to about Christ, is your lifestyle leading people to the kingdom or Hell. Why don't you stop pursuing those shadow things, which delay you in your race and pursue those things which will enhance your running.  Many preacher of the gospel will be cast out that day, because of their love of the things of this world rather than God. Yes, you can be doing wonders but if all you serve God is because of what you stand to gain then you are doomed already.