“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.”
Paul now changes his approach in making his point about waiving our rights for the greater purpose of making an issue out of the gospel.
Do you not know
The Christian must “know” something; he must establish norms before he determines what he does.
that those who run in a race all run,
The city of Corinth was near the site of the Isthmian Games (Isthmus of Corinth), so the people were familiar with metaphors of athletics. The Isthmian Games were second only to the Olympic Games and were held every two years. These games were great national festivals. The word “race” describes the usual 600-foot race. Paul was in Corinth during the games in spring A.D. 51.
but one receives the prize?
The point of a game is to win. Although many run in a race, only one can win the race. The competition for the Christian is not with others but with oneself. God does not give a prize for the person who finishes last. No one enters a race to finish last.
Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Christians who run with discipline win their race. It is how we run the race that is important. The word “obtain” means to lay hold of the prize. The Christian lives his life in such a way as to secure reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Philippians 3:14, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:5, And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
It is how we run the race of the Christian life that determines whether we win or not.
If we want to be a miler, we kiss goodbye to the strawberry shortcake. There is nothing wrong with strawberry shortcake if we want to make the checker team! It is possible to make the checker team and eat strawberry shortcakes, but we cannot eat it if we want to be a miler. We know that from the beginning of making the team.
Someone may say, ‘Now, what is wrong with strawberry shortcake?” There is nothing wrong with it if we want to make the checker team. Others may eat whatever they want but not the miler. Many athletic teams sit at a different table for their meals. At the training table, you eat differently than other people. People who are serious go into strict training. By exercising discipline at the table, we are better competitors.
Galatians 5:7, You ran well. Who hindered [literally, cut in on] you from obeying the truth?
Philippians 2:16, :holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Hebrews 12:1, Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,