In the days of the Apostle Paul, the Greeks organized athletic games every fifth year on the Isthmus, which joins the archipelago to the mainland. These games were referred to as the Isthmian games.
Every candidate had to take an oath that he had been through ten months of training and that he would adhere to the regulations of competition. These athletes were known to have lived on strict self-denying diets, refraining from wine and pleasant foods; enduring exposure to extreme hot and cold temperatures, and other laborious training–all in preparation to compete. This was done to have a chance to receive a crown of green leaves as their award. It was a corruptible crown that would soon wither away.
As Christians, we have an incorruptible crown within our view. Shouldn’t we, who hope for this crown of glory, exert ourselves in preparation and godly discipline for this prize?
As for the Greek contenders, all ran, but only one received the prize. As Christians, we all win. But, much like the athletes, we are to avail ourselves to be trained and equipped by our coaches (pastors, prophets and bible teachers) enabling us to fulfill our call in life and glorify God.
1 Corinthians 9:25 — And every athlete that striveth for mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.
Ephesians 4:11-12 — And He gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Matthew 25:23 — His Lord said unto him, Well done, diligent and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.