Enduring for the Prize

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a famous actor, businessman, politician, and former professional bodybuilder.

He grew up in Austria in humble circumstances and in his teens committed himself to bodybuilding – and to be the best bodybuilder.

At age 20 he won the Mr. Universe title.

Arnold would train six days a week, twice a day when preparing for a contest.  Moreover, he would also train each muscle group three times a week. 

It was rumoured that Arnold would need to train with at least three different training partners because no one could keep up with him.

He is a magnificent example of commitment, dedication, hard work, single-mindedness and enduring hardship for the sake of the prize – and he won the prize.

The Apostle Paul knew that for Christians there is an even greater, grander, eternal prize that motivates them. He knew that we, as Christians, must answer to Jesus and either receive reward or rebuke.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body.  (2 Corinthians 5:20)

How did Paul live as a result?

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

The Apostle Paul had this attitude: I focus my thoughts on the unseen spiritual realities and the world to come.  This enables me to endure in life and ministry.  This empowers me to be committed, dedicated, hard-working, and single-minded and to endure hardship for Jesus.

A few chapters later, this is how Paul described his life,

“…great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger…We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-10)

Did the Apostle Paul fail to claim all his physical blessings in Christ? Did he fail to walk in full victory?  No, the majority of Christians have a skewed view of what it means to be blessed. God may bless us now physically, with health and wealth, but he may not.  

God has promised every spiritual blessing now for those in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) – not every physical blessing.

Christians endure, even in hardship and opposition, in trusting Jesus and in gospel ministry because there is a great, future reward for faithfulness. (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

We aim for, not a mere Mr. Universe title, but an entire renewed universe, where we will be with Jesus and all God’s people, forever!

Dear Christian: will you – whoever you are, whatever job you do, however much you’re paid – challenge yourself to extreme, self-sacrificial, self-denying, single-minded, joyful, enduring, devotion to Jesus and gospel-ministry because you have a grand, eternal, awesome prize in the world to come?