One of the descriptions of a Christian in the New Testament is that of an athlete. The Apostle Paul uses this terminology often. We read in 2 Tim. 2:5: ”An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Paul writing in 2 Tim 4:7 says that “I have finished the race.” In I Cor. 9:25-27 Paul further compares the life of a Christian to an athlete.
During the time of Paul the Greek Games (Olympics) were very prominent and many participated or at least had an interest. Paul used words and phrases that talked about how an athlete prepares himself for his “sport.” Then he makes an application for the Christian.
To participate in the Greek games, one had to be a citizen of the city he lived in. Paul talked about “Christian Citizenship” in Phil. 3:20. The person would have pride in his city or country and would seek to bring honor to it. He would be willing to put in all the training so that he would be at a peak performance state when the games began.
So it is with the Christian. The participants in the Games were competing for a physical crown, but we, an imperishable or incorruptible crown. Paul wrote in I Cor. 9:25: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
The athlete would put all he had into training and would not let anything hinder him in that area. The Christian must be the same. He or she must equip themselves with every thing the Lord has for us. Jesus said he came to give us “the abundant life.” We must keep our eyes on Jesus and according to Titus 2:12 “renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
The Christian life is not a bed of roses, rather it is an on going life of commitment and steadfastness. In I Cor. 15:58 we read: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Let’s run with endurance the race set before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus at all times (Heb. 12:1-2). If we will do that, concentrating on improving our spiritual life daily, we will draw nearer to Jesus! Being a Christian “athlete” will mean you are “growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus!” (2nd Peter 3:18)