Last Sunday, the Summer Olympics wrapped up in Sydney, Australia. The United States won the most medals, and we can have much pride in our nation’s accomplishments.
Some of the more popular events in the Olympics are the track and field events. The media often told the stories of Michael Johnson and Marion Jones, great athletes who won many gold medals.
These athletes reminded me of a passage that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
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. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to win a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
We, too, are running a race! Our goal is Heaven, and we must always run with that goal in mind. Some of us will reach the end of the race sooner than others will, but we all shall receive the same reward once we get there. During this race we must always have self-control and focus: Michael Johnson and Marion Jones won the gold because they were focused and not distracted by anything. We, too, must not allow the distractions of the world to prevent us from being disqualified.
Those gold medals which Michael Johnson, Marion Jones, and others won will still exist long after the athletes who won them have grown old and have perished. Our race, however, ends only at death, and our reward shall be imperishable, timeless. Therefore, keep running, focused and with self-control, devoting all of your energy to the race. You shall not be disappointed, for your reward is waiting for you.
Update: this article was written in the summer of 2000; since then it has been revealed that Marion Jones, at least, was guilty of using unauthorized performance enhancements and was stripped of her medals. This highlights just how important it is to live life according to the rules which God has set down for us, lest we too be disqualified from the ultimate race.