Links Daily Devotional

Eager to Compete

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. (1 Corinthians 9:24, ESV)

One Friday morning, when I lived in California, I walked down the ninth fairway of Palo Alto Muni, a Billy Bell-designed track that rewarded good play and punished everything else. That day I was being punished.

All of us are enjoined by Paul to understand that this life of following Jesus is serious business that is like a competition.Walking with me were two other members of our regular group, and one of them was curious.

“What’s the matter with you today?” he asked.

I honestly didn’t know. I had almost birdied the first, a tricky par-5, and was even par through three. But four, the toughest hole, had taken my measure, and my game had gone downhill on a flat course from there.

“I know what it is,” my friend said. “Let’s play for a Coke.”

My game suddenly returned and I got back most of the strokes I’d thrown away earlier. That was either good news or bad news, because I’m not sure how I really feel about being competitive.

I blame it on having an older brother, with whom I competed in many ways over many years, but somehow a competitive spirit got into my bones, and it has not gone away.

But competitive or not, all of us are enjoined by Paul to understand that this life of following Jesus is serious business that is like a competition. He went on to say that the garland of the athletic champion is perishable, but the one we strive for is imperishable. In the last verse of this chapter and the first few verses of the next chapter he noted that even in the Christian race, not all who enter the race win.

How do we win? We stick with Jesus. Who is trying to take us out? Satan. Sometimes we are easy targets because we are not disciplined, because we think we have it won, or because we simply lose our focus on the goal (Philippians 3:13-14). But we must remain steadfast (James 1:12).

There have been times in my life where a competitive spirit has served me well. I won that Coke, I won other awards and honors here and there, and I will win more in the future. The same is undoubtedly true for you. But the only prize that matters for any of us is the crown of life.

Compete well.

Lewis Greer
June 1, 2017
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at

Related to this devotion, you may find value in our article, The Bible for Athletes in the Thick of Competition.