“Do you not know that in a race all the runner run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Athletes make many sacrifices to strive and win the prize. Sometimes they have to wake up early before the sun comes up to go practice. That means that they need to go to bed early to have sufficient rest. Athletes need to sacrifice on what they eat. Some sports require you to lose weight and some to gain weight. Competitors sacrifice by eating smaller portions, eating no carbohydrates (bread, rice, etc.) after the last workout to try and lose weight. Fast foods are not acceptable, very little chocolate or no chocolate at all is allowed. Players train their body in speed, strength, power, endurance, agility and flexibility to achieve maximum performance. Athletes deny their natural desires and do the things they know they should to perform. They train hard sacrificing many comforts, knowing that they will experience pain and discomfort but it is in the hope that it is only for a while.
Paul encourages the believers in Corinth to make sacrifices and train to win the race of life.
Are you making sacrifices to win the crown that will last forever?
Are you beating the air?
What are you running to?
Are you running in such a way to receive the prize (calling) God has called you to?