Scripture: Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.  1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)

Observation: The Isthmian games, in which the foot race was a leading one, were of course well known, and a subject of patriotic pride to the Corinthians, who lived in the immediate neighborhood. These periodical games were to the Greeks rather a passion than a mere amusement: hence their suitableness as an image of Christian earnestness.
So run, that ye may obtain—said parenthetically. These are the words in which the instructors of the young in the exercise schools (gymnasia) and the spectators on the race course exhorted their pupils to stimulate them to put forth all exertions. The gymnasium was a prominent feature in every Greek city. Every candidate had to take an oath that he had been ten months in training, and that he would violate none of the regulations (2Ti 2:5 compare 1Ti 4:7 8). He lived on a strict self-denying diet, refraining from wine and pleasant foods, and enduring cold and heat and most laborious discipline. The “prize” awarded by the judge or umpire was a chaplet of green leaves; at the Isthmus, those of the indigenous pine, for which parsley leaves were temporarily substituted (1Co 9:25. The Greek for “obtain” is fully obtain. It is in vain to begin, unless we persevere to the end (Mt 10:22 24:13; Rev 2:10). The “so” expresses, Run with such perseverance in the heavenly course, as “all” the runners exhibit in the earthly “race” just spoken of: to the end that ye may attain the prize. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)

Application: Marriage is like a marathon, not a sprint.  To run a marathon one needs several things:
1. Proper equipment – Although the equipment seems simple – a pair of tennis shoes, shorts, t-shirt – the right type of tennis shoes may make a world of difference.  In marriage, the better the equipment we bring into a lasting relationship the greater the chances we will have that it will last a lifetime – family background, religious beliefs, maturity, education, etc.
2. Proper preparation – Because two people are beginning a life together, proper preparation is essential to lasting success.  During this preparation the couple can see what they have in common and what areas in which they need to make changes to adapt to their relationship.
3. Proper attitude – A sprinter has a mind set to run as fast as possible.  Some relationships today are like a sprint – short dating period, quick, engagement, a fast-and-furious wedding/honeymoon, and a quick divorce.  A marathoner does not have a sprint in mind but a long, steady race.  He/she knows it will take time to get to the end and that they need to pace themselves.
4. Endurance – Marathon runners reach certain points in the race when the pain seems unbearable, when the heat or the cold makes it uncomfortable to run, where the hills make it extra challenging to continue, but they continue the race with perseverance and they endure ‘till the end.
5. A single mind on the goal – marathon runners don’t get distracted with the crowd of people cheering or with the crowd of people running around them.  They don’t think about what others say or think.  These runners have one goal in mind, and that is to finish the race, to reach the goal, to make it to the end.
6. A support team – While running is an individual sport, in reality runners need a support team – the ones that give them water along the way, the people that cheer them on, the ones that encourage them during their training, the ones that lift them up when they are too tired or weak or hurt to go on.  In marriage, we not only need each other, but we need the support and encouragement of family, friends, and the religious community so we can go on to win the race together.
     The key in the marriage race is not to finish first or to be the best, but to run to the end.  We will face ups and downs, days of discouragement and days of triumphs and joys, and through it all, we keep our eye on the final goal, to reach the finish line together.  When we win that race, not only do we receive the crown, the satisfaction of having made a lifetime together, but our children also receive a lasting reward, the legacy of their parents marriage.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, Help us to run this race of marriage to the end.  And when we finish the course, may we receive from Your hands the crown of glory.  At the same time, Father, may our children be blessed by watching the example of our race so they too may run victoriously their own race of life.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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