Moving from the imagery of a soldier, Paul now uses the imagery of an athlete. 2 Tim 2:5 says, “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.”
If the imagery of a soldier seeking only to please his commanding officer teaches us the need to have a clear purpose, the imagery of an athlete teaches us the need to have a clear plan for training.
Paul wrote in 1 Cor 9:24–27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
Having a clear purpose is insufficient if I do not have a systematic way of training in order to reach that goal. For example, I may desire to run a full marathon (42km) but if my training runs never cross the 10km mark, there is no way I can meet my eventual goal. Incidentally, that was my mistake when I ran my first (and last) full marathon. Because I failed to train sufficiently and correctly, I found myself wobbling and limping the last 21km just to complete the race. My legs ached for two whole weeks after the marathon!
Likewise, God may have awakened in us the desire and need to prepare ourselves to be a holy and blameless Bride, but that desire alone is insufficient if we have no concrete plans and processes to get ready for Jesus’ return.
Questions for Reflection:
Someone wisely said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” For a start, do you have a daily and regular habit of reading or listening to God’s Word? If not, schedule it into your calendars. Habits are only formed after an extended time. Begin by reading God’s Word consistently daily.