"Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" (I Corinthians 9:25).
Paul reminds us that his service and work for God was like the Olympic tryout races held in Corinth. The Greek word "striveth" in our text is agonizomai, which could be translated "agonize," emphasizing the unusual athletic significance of the meaning of this word. It is used elsewhere in the New Testament to illustrate the single-minded objective we should have in our walk and ministry with God.
Jesus, in Luke 13:24, challenged people to "Strive |agonize| to enter in at the straight gate." In the matter of our salvation, we should be certain in our conviction. Paul said to "work out your own salvation" (Philippians 2:12) and its total application to every part of life. Paul also wrote of his desire to "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus" (Colossians 1:28), "striving |agonizing| according to His working" (v. 29). The ministry to obtain spiritually mature disciples, Paul implies, is like an athletic competition.
Jude challenges us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3) against apostasy. The Greek word epagonizomai in this verse has a prefix attached to our word, emphasizing the earnestness of our agony in this matter.
Thus, there are four things for which Christians should strive |agonize|: (1) our salvation being worked out in our lives; (2) our ministry, which should yield spiritually complete Christians; (3) our prayers with and for other Christians; and (4) our faith. Athletes strive for a medal or wreath: We strive for an incorruptible crown! SAA