Striving for the Mastery – Part Four

“Know you not that they which run in a race run all, but one receives the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”  (I Corinthians 9: 24 – 27)

Every competitor in the Isthmus games had to be a COMPETITOR.

The expression “I fight” means I will compete to the best of my ability.

The figure of speech now changes from a runner to that of a fighter. In 684 B.C. the Olympic Games were expanded to include boxing. 

“Thus I fight not as one who beats the air…”

This is a description of a person shadow boxing — pretending. The Christian life isn’t a pretend world. It is for real.

To gain an understanding of what was involved in boxing in the Isthmus Games let me share these insights.

The boxer wore only oil and a pair of potentially lethal gloves. That’s all.  These gloves were known as “Caestus.” They consisted of leather thongs set with metal knobs of lead or iron. Round one began with the competitors towing a line and starting at a given signal. Round one ended when one of the boxers had been knocked out or killed. Round two began when the boxer who had been knocked out was revived. He was then given a certain amount of time to resume the fight. A line was drawn and he had to tow the line within the time limit. When he did, round two began. The fight ended when one had either been killed or beaten senseless.

We, too, have to toe the line for Jesus.

There was a technical term employed in boxing used in the text. The decisive first blow was the “fist blow under the eye” known in the Greek as the HUP-OPIAZO. “Hupo” meaning “under” and “ops” meaning “eye.” It was the term of that era comparable to our term “knock out.”  In our text it is used in the Greek and translated “I buffet” or “I discipline my body.”

Like such a boxer we must mentally use our spiritual resources to control our bodies if we are to be spiritual victors. Fight “not as uncertain.”

If you want a victorious spiritual life it requires being spiritually focused. The word in verse 26 translated “uncertainty” is ADELOS and it means “I do not run without clarity.”

No athlete has come to these games without clarity of purpose. Each knows in what he or she is to compete and is focused on that. Be certain of your role.

What is your goal in life?