Go for the gold!

"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."
- 1 Corinthians 9:24

Hope is a very powerful motivator in life!   I have sometimes heard stories of prisoners of war, who through the power of hope survive years of brutal captivity and punishment. However, once a captured soldiers loses the source of their inspiration and hope, their strength fades rapidly and their life ends quickly.

Hope is also a very powerful source of strength for olympic athletes. Usually, these athletes train for years and years, always keeping a focus on the confident hope, that they will stand before a watching world and receive a beautiful gold metal, in honor of their performance for their country.

Hopes such as these, can often inspire men and women to accomplish amazing feats of strength, endure tremendous amounts of suffering and affliction, and empower them to continue onward with an almost superhuman endurance... all due to the power and strength that hope gives!

Hope should also be a source of inspiration, power, and strength for every believer in Christ.  Paul the apostle tells us in here in 1 Corinthians 9:24 that a heavenly prize awaits each of us at the end of our "race of faith":

"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."

Just as an athlete in ancient Greece was motivated to perform his best, because of the crown and award he would receive as a victor, so every Christian should be inspired and compelled by the thought of their heavenly prize.

Elsewhere, in 1 Corinthians 3:11-14, Paul describes for us the actual Day that each of us will experience as we stand before Christ in the future, to receive rewards for faithful service:

"For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward."

This all important Day is called the "Judgement Seat of Christ" in the New Testament (Read Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and it is the day that will determine who you are for eternity and what your Kingdom ministry will be for Christ.  

Just as we tell unbelievers that what the do with Jesus Christ will affect how they spend their personal eternity, so it is with us as believers.  Depending on how faithful and diligent we are here and now for Christ, and how greatly or minimally we invest our time, talents, and treasures for Him will determine who we are and what we do for all of eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven! (Read Luke 19:12-27 and Matthew 25:14-30)

If we allow ourselves to be greatly motivated at the prospect of earthly rewards such as promotions, prizes, or even retirement...shouldn't we also be inspired and empowered by the thought of your Heavenly prize and crown? Shouldn't that promise and hope strengthen you today, as you seek to live for Jesus and serve Him?

My friend, I encourage you today to fill your thoughts with the hope and reality of Heaven as Colossians 3:1-4 commands.  Take time to examine the 110 chapters in Scripture that speak to us of the details of the coming Kingdom of Heaven.  And for today, let this confident hope empower you to live purer, walk stronger, and shine brighter... as you "go for the gold" of Heaven!