CASTAWAY

1 Cor.9:26,27 – I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

This word, castaway, carries within itself a fragrance or impression of desert islands and ship wrecked sailors. Just the mention of the word causes me to envision Tom Hanks with Wilson on his desert island, or Gilligan and his crew and their unusual adventures, or the classic castaway story, Robinson Crusoe. The King James Bible used the word castaway while others preferred the word disqualified. Castaway seems to be more terrifying to me. To be cast off by the Lord is not exactly how I want my ministry to turn out. Paul was saying that it is possible to preach about Christ and not know Him for yourself. No wonder their is so much compromise and sin inn the ministry. Here is how Matthew Henry speaks about this warning.

“He sets before himself and them the danger of yielding to fleshly inclinations, and pampering the body and its lusts and appetites: I keep my body under, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast-away, rejected, disapproved, adokimos, one to whom the brabeutes—the judge or umpire of the race, will not decree the crown. The allusion to the games runs through the whole sentence. Note, A preacher of salvation may yet miss it. He may show others the way to heaven, and never get thither himself. To prevent this, Paul took so much pains in subduing and keeping under bodily inclinations, lest by any means he himself, who had preached to others, should yet miss the crown, be disapproved and rejected by his sovereign Judge. A holy fear of himself was necessary to preserve the fidelity of an apostle; and how much more necessary is it to our preservation? Note, Holy fear of ourselves, and not presumptuous confidence, is the best security against apostasy from God, and final rejection by him.”

Henry really hones in on what Paul was saying about protecting ourselves from being a castaway. Did you catch it? He said we must have a fear of ourselves, not a trust in ourselves. It seems the Apostle Paul and Matthew Henry are taking a position not popular today. Examine yourself closely and continuously, you may not have it as all together as you think.

THE RACE

1 Cor.9:24-27 – Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.

This is one of those famous Paul passages in the New Testament. He pictures his calling as an apostle as if it was a calling to be an Olympic athlete. He sees the discipline and perseverance for an earthly crown that will pass away and recognizes that the crown we are working for is far more valuable. The city of Corinth was very familiar with the Olympic style games held nearby. They were the Isthmian Games held in the Pan- Hellenic stadium near Corinth. Everyone in Corinth was familiar with these games and probably knew some of the participants. Paul recognized several things about these athletes. First, they had their eyes on the prize. The athlete’s prize was temporary, our prize is literally an eternal reward. Paul’s thinking was that if these Olympians could be so focused on their earthly reward, how much more should I be focused on the eternal. Secondly, Paul saw the importance of discipline in reaching his goal. In the Passion Translation it says that Paul beat his body black and blue. In the ESV it says, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control”. Paul saw the importance of exerting all his energy toward the prize and not allowing his natural inclinations to hinder his calling.

In other words, our calling and prize is more valuable than any reward or medal. Eternal souls are at stake. If athletes can discipline themselves for an earthly reward, how much more can I for the spiritual crown. Finally, Paul refused to be a castaway or disqualified. In other words he had to play according to the rules. The Judge had His eye on everything. Paul was determined to finish the race well.

WHEN SAINTS BECOME SINNERS

“When Saints become Sinners”
Merry Friday by Parris Bailey

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27 KJV)

I couldn’t help but have a horrible sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach seeing the front page of the USA TODAY with a picture of Sean Payton plastered on it. Like all of us on that now famous Superbowl night in which the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts with an interception in the final minutes of the last quarter, it’s was a night never to be forgotten. I think all of us can still see Sean Payton sleeping holding onto the Lombardi trophy.
My family knows I’m not much of a sports fan but that night was different. As a child I grew up with my mom working for the New Orleans Saints, she even drove a black and gold Mustang. The New Orleans Saints have became a part of our city and our livelihood.
So what happens when Saints become sinners? When our dreams shatter because of man? Even the great apostle Paul was afraid that he too might become a castaway. Thayer Definition is this: not standing the test, not approved or that which does not prove itself such as it ought; unfit for, spurious, reprobate. The book of Revelations bids us a sober warning, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:11) Spurgeon even asks us this question. “Am I now a Christian? am I living as a Christian should now? am I evincing to others, am I giving to myself daily, constant, growing evidence that I am actuated by the pure principles of the gospel, and that that gospel is the object of my highest preference, and my holiest and constant desire? O how holy would be the ministry, if all should endeavor every day to live and act for Christ and for souls with as much steadiness and fidelity as did the apostle Paul!”
I’m not here to be the judge of who is a Saint or who is the Sinner. I do know God tries the hearts of men. “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24) Another version says, “There is room for all to get the prize. You cannot fail if you run well. Yet there should be a noble emulation; you should endeavor to outdo one another. And it is a glorious contest who shall get first to heaven, or have the best rewards in that blessed world. I make it my endeavor to run; so do you, as you see me go before you.”
At the end of the day we all are in the great chase for the eternal glory. Saint or Sinner, you decide, in the meantime keep your eyes on the prize!