This morning I was told the common advice given to women — take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of others. It is easy to get caught up in caring for others. It is easy to put ourselves last. Tonight, the Bible told me the same thing:
Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win over those under the law. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law—though I am not outside God’s law but within the law of Christ—to win over those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Run so as to win. As a former athlete, this last paragraph hits home. We all want to win. In life, we strive to win all sorts of prizes, awards, human praise. We fight for little league trophies, scholarships, promotions, accolades. Our kids spend hours at practices for sports or dance or gymnastics. We spend hours at work for the end of year bonus or the promotion that seems out of reach. We practice or work day and night for that human achievement. We run faster to beat the person beside us.
Run so as to win. But what about the ultimate prize — the imperishable one. Are we running for it? Are we striving for it? Are we fighting for it? Are we training for it? Do we spend as much time as we do searching for human crowns? Do we spend even half as much time?
Run so as to win. And if we do spend the time focusing on the imperishable crown — do we remember to take care of ourselves? Do we remember to heal ourselves? To run our own race too? To make sure that we are not disqualified at the end?
Help me to train for the ultimate race. The race that more than one can win. Help me to use the discipline of an athlete training for the Olympics. Help me to not run aimlessly. Help me to help others, but not forget about myself.