Through her ministry, Joni & Friends, Joni Eareckson Tada shares the hope of the gospel and gives practical help to people impacted by disability. Her passion comes from personal experience. In 1967, at age 17, Joni took a dive that left her a quadriplegic. Her story became a movie and then a ministry. In 2018, Joni announced that the cancer she thought had gone into remission had returned. During this challenging and exhausting season, Joni said God’s Word helped her thrive. In a recent interview she referred to First Corinthians 9:25 as her inspiration to keep fighting for the eternal prize.
In today’s text, Paul was explaining his passion for ministry to the believers in Corinth. He was committed to proclaiming the gospel as often as he was able. He summed up his approach by stating, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some” (v. 22). Of course, there were theological boundaries that Paul would apply to this statement, but he would always go the extra mile to reach people with hope found in Christ.
Not surprisingly, in verses 24–27, Paul used sports metaphors to make his point. Runners and boxers go “into strict training” (v. 25) to win rewards that will eventually perish and be forgotten. In the original language this phrase referred to athletes who practiced chastity and restraint in diet. Paul had chosen a similar approach to self-discipline and exhibited a steadfast commitment to spreading the gospel. Paul wasn’t striving for a temporary, reward, but for a crown that would last for eternity! As we support others through the battles in their lives, remember we are doing so not for earthly crowns but for heavenly rewards that will last for eternity.
>> If you, or someone you know, has been impacted by cancer or another illness, be encouraged by Paul’s words. Pray today for those in your life who are facing this fight.