February 9, 2018
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14
Every time the Olympic Games roll around on the calendar, it seems the news media is completely focused on that event. Athletes from around the world hope to win their competitions, and they have worked and trained with the prize of a gold medal in mind. Often, a gold medal has been their hope from the time their training began, many months and even years before the games take place. These athletes set their eyes on that goal and dedicate themselves to rigorous training in order to reach it. During the last Olympics, a number of athletes reported that they had worked out for about six hours a day, six days a week, and one said he had even practiced on Christmas Day when it fell on a training day!
As Christians, we also have a goal, and that is to follow Jesus Christ to our final prize—Heaven. If we want to be successful, we can never take our eyes off this goal. Like athletes, we must work diligently to keep in top spiritual shape by reading God’s Word and praying every day. Our adversary would like to distract us and cause us to lose focus, and he has many different tactics to get us off track. He might try telling us that we do not need our deeper experiences because we are “good enough,” or that it will not matter if we skip devotions “just once.” Those are lies intended to prevent us from giving God our best. But if we want to win the prize, only our best will do.
Despite the rigorous training and commitment of the Olympic athletes, many had to settle for a silver or bronze medal, and the vast majority left with no medal at all. However, unlike the Olympic Games, in the Christian walk we do not have to settle for second or third place. We all can be winners in the Gospel if our lives are pleasing to God and we allow Him to direct our paths. An Olympic gold medal pales in comparison to the prize Christians will receive when we reach Heaven, for a “crown of righteousness” is laid up for us if we love His appearing, and mansions are waiting for us as well. More importantly, we will “ever be with the Lord.” Praise God!