Athletes for Christ.
Submitted by: Gord Gooderham
2 Timothy 2:5.
Paul’s life-ending challenge to Timothy, his son in the faith, urged him to compete as an athlete in his Christian life and ministry. From his prison cell in Rome, the Apostle wrote, “If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”
These men were quite familiar with the Olympic Games held every fourth year in Greece. It was a religious festival honouring Zeus, the Greek king of the gods, dating from 776 BC (perhaps even earlier) and continuing through 393 AD. The first and only event in 776 BC was a 600 metre foot race. Over time, the pentathlon, boxing, wrestling and chariot races were added. Rules were established to ensure fair competition for determining the winner of the ‘stephanoutai’, the honoured wreath that crowned the victor’s head.
Perhaps it was an Olympic year when Paul wrote Timothy, thinking of the discipline, determination and dedication of the athletes in training. Exercise, diet, repetition of skills, and knowledge of the rules were pursued to the highest level. No one involved in the Christian life should be any less committed to winning the reward of God’s approval. “Run”, wrote Paul to the Corinthian believers, “in such a way to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training…we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor. 9:24,25)
Because Timothy was a young man, Paul sent him instructions to follow. Practicing these rules of life, he would set a godly example for other believers “in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12). Five rules of conduct to run the race of Christian faith and receive the victor’s crown.
– in speech. Guard your tongue. Let your speech be without offence.
– in life. Conduct or behaviour. The word means ‘up turning’, from former actions now known to be sinful, to acts of kindness and honour.
– in love. The love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Rom. 5:5)
– in faith. Faith in the name of Jesus, by which we stand firm, act like men, strong in character.
– in purity. A clean heart to worship God, and a chaste mind and body in relation to people.
Run the race. Keep the rules. Win the crown.