The ancient Greeks held four national festivals, or games - Olympian, Isthmian, Pythian, and Nemean. The most important were the Olympian games, followed by the Isthmian, held every two years on the Isthmus of Corinth. The modern Olympics still retain vestiges of the dual emphases in the original Greek games: Winning was important, but so was how you played the game.
Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to "run in such a way that [they
might] obtain [the prize]" (I Corinthians 9:24). Greek runners were judged
not just on their speed but on how they ran - did they stay in their lane; did
they cut off a fellow runner? It took years of self-discipline to prepare for,
and run in, the Greek games. And it is the same in the Christian life. But to
run in the flesh, in our own strength, will result in "bad form."
The only self-discipline adequate for crossing the finish line in Christlike
form is that supplied by the Holy Spirit: "The fruit of the Spirit is self-control."
Our commitment should be to walk in the Spirit, not run in the flesh.
Running the race in the Spirit leads to victory, racing in the flesh to disqualification.
- Turning Point Daily Devotional, 8/21/03