The word castaway is a technical word familiar to those who knew the Greek Olympic games.
Paul used the term to say he did not want to be “disapproved” or “disqualified” as a servant of
At the Greek games, there was a herald who announced the rules of the contest, the names of the
contestants, and the names and cities of the winners. He would also announce the names of any
contestants who were disqualified.
Paul saw himself as both a “herald” and a “runner.” He was concerned lest he get so busy trying
to help others in the race that he ignore himself and find himself disqualified.
Again, it was not a matter of losing personal salvation. (The disqualified Greek athlete did not
lose his citizenship, only his opportunity to win a prize.) The whole emphasis is on rewards, and
Paul did not want to lose his reward.
Only one runner could win the olive-wreath crown in the Greek games, but every believer can
win an incorruptible crown when he stands before the Judgment Seat of Christ. This crown is
given to those who discipline themselves for the sake of serving Christ and winning lost souls.
They keep their bodies under control and keep their eyes on the goal. There is something to be
said for disciplined eating, exercising, and resting, and a Spirit-directed balanced life.
We smugly congratulate ourselves if we do not smoke or use alcohol, but what about our
overeating and overweight? And many Christians cannot discipline their time so as to have a
consistent devotional life.
Paul had one great goal in life: to glorify the Lord by winning the lost and building up the saints.
He sacrificed immediate gains for eternal rewards, immediate pleasures for eternal joys.
Scripture for today: “Let us … lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily
entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on
Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB).
Other Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 10:35-36.
Action assignment: Consider how the race is going for you. Is there an area in which you need
more self discipline? Pray about it.
WARREN W. WIERSBE