Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 Corinthians 9 ~ Avoiding Spiritual Disqualification

on September 19, 2012

In Chapter 8 Paul told the church members in Corinth to lay down their rights in the name of love.  Chapter 9 displays Paul’s willingness to lay down his rights for the sake of the gospel.  Being a “minister” of the good news of Jesus is a great privilege–selfishly hanging onto our petty rights shouldn’t even measure as a sacrifice in regard to so great a calling and gift. Does eating good meat (chapter 8) mean more to us than loving and rescuing people for Christ?

Paul ended this chapter with a great analogy to the life of ministry being like a race, and we like runners.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.  So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and keep it under control lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Back in verse 19 Paul wrote that he made himself a servant of all in order that he might win more of them–save people.  The human soul is eternal–it goes on forever.  Pointing people to the Savior-Jesus Christ–and seeing them allow their lives to be transformed by Him is a great reward and prize.  A saved soul is an eternal reward!  Is that the prize for which we are running?  Are we even running at all–or just sort of limping along, maybe overcome with personal injuries or weariness?  How many leaders of the gospel are laying lifeless along the course of ministry?

As a runner (probably more of a jogger!), I see great parallels in preparing, running and finishing a race without being a casualty along the way.

  1. Lay down all rights and entitlement.  Work hard for what is of value. (19-23)
  2. Directed and determined. (26)  When I trained for a half-marathon, I used a training schedule.  People who are aimless, probably won’t finish well.
  3. Diligent–don’t stop!
  4. Disciplined; controlled (25, 27).  It’s the day-in and day-out obedience and faithfulness that finishes the race well.
  5. Undistracted. (24) We cannot take our eyes off the finish line.  What would happen in a marathon, if the runner stopped at every Starbucks along the way?
  6. Focus on the finish line–the eternal reward. We are such temporal people. We easily accept the perishable rewards of man’s approval, comfort, or self-gratification.  True fulfillment is crossing the finish line, seeing Jesus and having Him say, “Well done,” and seeing the people there in heaven who’s lives were forever changed because of the ministry of the gospel lived out in your race and mine.

To avoid disqualification in the race, we must stay focused and self-controlled, laying aside anything that threatens to derail us, and run!

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