Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. – 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV
As a runner, this is an analogy that really strikes home. The Isthmian Games were held at Corinth and included running, boxing, jumping and throwing. These games required extensive training, so it was limited mostly to young men who were wealthy and didn’t have to work. All of the contestants for an event would compete against each other. But only the winner of an event received a prize. There were no participation medals as is frequently seen today. The prize itself had very little value, being a laurel wreath to wear on your head. It’s primary value laid in the honor it bestowed to the champion.
In contrast to that is the race we run as believers. We run for a crown that will never wear out, a crown of great value. What does it take to win that crown? I practice running; a lot. I have learned that you cannot compete in a race if you have not invested time in preparing for it. And that is true for the race I run as a believer. While I am not competing against other believers for a single crown (the analogy breaks down here), nonetheless, I need to fix my eye on the goal (Phil. 3:13-14), and run with perseverance. Being sidetracked by other things and not focusing on the race, my walk with Christ, is guaranteed to result in disappointment.
Persevere in your faith, until the end. That persevering faith will guarantee you victory (1 John 5:4). Run to get the prize.