Every believer must establish a list of priorities to put first things first. 2 Chronicles 1:11-12, “Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”
When Solomon became king of Israel, he was given the opportunity to ask God for anything, to make a list, a list of priorities. No doubt, King Solomon faced the same options we have today:
- Solomon could’ve chosen to focus on the easy tasks ahead of him.
- He could have chosen to focus on riches or fame.
- Solomon could’ve asked for help in building the temple or he could’ve sought favor with those who didn’t like him.
- Instead, Solomon chose to seek wisdom so he could glorify God. Matthew 6:33, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Paul sets his priorities, he writes a description of himself in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
If our hearts desire to serve God can use us if we make Him our priority. Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
In the award winning film, Chariots of Fire, one of the characters is legendary British sprinter Harold Abrahams. He is obsessed with winning, but in a preliminary 100-meter dash leading up to the 1924 Olympics, he is soundly beaten by his rival, Eric Liddell. Abraham’s response is despair. When his girlfriend, Sybil, tries to encourage him, Harold angrily declares, “I run to win. If I can’t win, I won’t run!” Sybil responds wisely, “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”
Life is full of reversals, and we as Christians are not excluded from disappointments that make us want to give up. But in this race, the Christian life, Paul challenges us to keep running.
Paul is saying we are to run faithfully, spurred on by the knowledge that we run to honor our Lord and to receive from Him an eternal crown.
If we falter in our running—if we quit serving God or give in to sin because of our difficulties—we risk losing a rich reward we could have received had we run our best.
Sybil was right, “If you don’t run, you can’t win.”
Greater than winning any medal will be hearing our Lord and Master say, “Well done!”