Day 11

Paul’s Example

from the 1 & 2 Corinthians reading plan

1 Corinthians 9:1-27, Matthew 15:11, Romans 15:17-19

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:1-27, Matthew 15:11, Romans 15:17-19

I was a gangly eighth grader with the athleticism of an opossum. As one does in middle school, I signed up for the track team strictly because my friends had done the same. There was not a cell in my hormonal body that wanted to run the four-lap race assigned to me. I lumbered to the starting line hauling a bundle of nerves and a posture of defeat.

Then… Bang! The starting pistol fired, and we began circling the track. As I crested the final turn of my third lap, I noticed a few frontrunners were crossing the finish line a full lap ahead of me. Hungry for glory, I sealed my fate in the Track Hall of Shame. I squared my shoulders and crossed the finish line in style, confident no one would notice I still had a lap left to run.

Assuming I’d successfully cheated my way onto the winners’ platform, I celebrated my victory. It was a brief moment of glory followed by a humiliating spectacle of defeat. As the last of the runners crossed the finish line, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“You,” said a man with a stopwatch in his hand. “Run your last lap.” I ran the final lap of the race on an empty track. It was the opposite of a victory lap.

Such is the image Paul paints for us. As disciples and disciple makers, we are runners on the track of faith. God’s truth is a baton that has been passed from Abraham to Isaac, to the apostles, to Paul, to us. We are pushing toward the prize of making Christ known. Yet, it’s easy to forget what we’re doing here. We’re so often distracted by the crowd in the stands or the other runners pumping and huffing beside us. Paul reminds us that those sideways glances can cost us the victory.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (vv. 24-27).

The apostle isn’t writing about salvation here. No amount of training or self-discipline could earn us that. Salvation is ours forever because of Christ’s work, not ours. But, let’s be honest; it’s possible to be saved, but not sowing. To be redeemed, but not reaping. To be an ambassador of faith, but not a good one. It’s possible to run the race of faith, but not run it well.

Paul’s obsession with the gospel (vv. 15–18) is what glued his eyeballs to the finish line. He could face criticism, hardship, and scarcity, and still keep running because allegiance to the gospel was the medal he imagined hanging around his neck.

Since we don’t want to cross the finish line with heads hanging in defeat, how do we keep our own eyes on the prize? Like a runners cadence, we repeat. . .

It’s about the gospel.
It’s about the gospel.
It’s about the gospel.

Let us keep running!


Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Post Comments (64)

64 thoughts on "Paul’s Example"

  1. Ava Warren says:

    This is a good reminder to focus on your own faith and race. If someone else is reaping benefits and blessings, that’s not for you to be jealous of or even for you to aim for. Focus on your race.

  2. Susan Lincks says:

    It is so easy to take notice of others which increases anxiety within me if I am not keeping up. I would always get restless and nervous when people started leaving the room after a test. It would make me hurry because I wanted to be in the first group and not the last person taking the test. I should have kept my eyes on the prize instead of making foolish errors due to speed.

  3. Rhiannon Donovan says:

    It’s about the gospel- it’s about God. That’s all we need.

  4. Rosie Kirsch says:

    Thank you for your comment as I have been thinking on Reach for More’ as we contemplate a decision that woul require us moving on yet in so doing inevitably leaving some things behind . Recognizing ‘change in life and ministry forces a change in stride’ is so helpful to not getting distracted. Thank you

  5. Shelby Lynn says:

    Wonderful post. Running track in high school makes this very personal. Life remains a track race, eventually we all make it to the end. It’s not about how you made it to the end, it’s about our run. Same thing with the “-” (dash) between the dates on tombstones, how did you live your dash? Lord thank you for salvation despite my sins making me feel as if I don’t deserve it, you are a Great God!

  6. Kellie Cajas says:

    I just stepped out of leadership in church ministry to embrace my calling as a sexual assault nurse examiner. With full faith and peace I made my decision, but it came with a lot of hard conversations. We all get so distracted by the details of life, I think it can be difficult to keep that runner’s cadence going when change in life and ministry forces a change in stride. Thank you for the reminder this morning that my cadence doesn’t change, even when the look of my ministry does!

    1. K A says:

      Your new job is indeed a ministry! I pray you will be light in a dark time for the victims.

  7. Heidi Jones says:

    I was reminded the other day of how much the Lord blessed me with my godly upbringing. Today, I feel the Holy Spirit telling me not to waste it…I am running the race of life and I feel like it’s so easy to be distracted while running. Why am I running? I need to remember my purpose in running is for the spread of the Gospel.

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