‘Olympic athletes set new world record!’ The headlines blast the news to an eager audience and the cameras capture the victor parading their newly achieved medal. Hours later, perhaps even days, the same athlete is pictured on the front page with the word ‘Disgraced!’ Doping, illegal moves, the ways deceitful hearts find to ‘cheat the sytem’ seem to multiply exponentially. At times, entire countries have had their teams banned due to the endemic nature of this evil. Even the world has its standards!
In 2 Timothy 2:5, Paul uses the athletic world as an illustration of the necessity of hardship, self-discipline and appropriate self leadership. Leaders must learn to lead themselves as much as they lead others.
“Similarly, if anyone completes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.”
Athletics demands training and each sport has its rules. The challenge for referees and judges is to know these rules so well so as to spot violators. The crown of the day was a wreath of laurel leaves, certainly not a long lasting souvenir. But the joy of winning, ‘the victor’s crown,’ was only awarded to those who competed according to the rules.
Do you know the rules of the faith? Are you someone, like Ezra, who is well versed in Scripture? What are the spiritual disciplines you engage in regularly? May the rest of 2016, 2017 and whatever time God entrusts to us be marked with ‘growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.’