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Our news in the last week or two has included reports from Rio de Janiero where the Olympic Games have been held.  Our TV screens have depicted dedicated runners and other athletes striving with each other to win honoursfor their countries. 

These reports prompted our minds this morning, so that we read with greater perception the points the apostle Paul drew when he wrote to the believers at Corinth – this city  is not far from where the Olympic Games originated almost 2,800 years ago.   It is 120 years since they were revived in the modern era, but now there is keen competition between the countries of the world to stage them – every 4 years – and to train athletes to participate and win honours for their countries..

The lessons Paul drew in his letter were very challenging – and are just as much so – for us – today.  “Do you not know,” Paul wrote, “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.” [1st Epistle ch. 9 v.24,25]

What intense ‘self-control’ was needed as each athlete exercised in preparation for the Games.  Those who were successful received a ‘wreath’ – and also honours when they returned to their countries.

The lesson for us could not be clearer – our “wreath” – as we run the race for eternal life with a full sense of commitment – is beyond wonderbeyond our present comprehension.  How ‘inspired’ we must increasingly become! Paul sets us the example, ponder his words, the spirit he had developed in himself.! 

“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.”  [v.26,27]  May we all be able to echo this spirit of mind Paul had developed-  and be a spiritual “athlete” that “exercises self-control in all things.    

And – in contrast to the Olympics, our Lord sets no limit to the number who will receive an imperishable wreath!  Let us train at every opportunity – to make sure we are among them – surely we each have a multitude of training opportunities every day!

By Bro D.Caudery

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