Everyone throughout the civilized world is familiar with the Olympic games, which are open to all nations. The modern revival of the ancient Olympic games, instituted in 1896 in Athens, Greece, has continued with few exceptions at regular four-year intervals in various leading cities of the world. The games, consisting of many different types of athletic contests, include foot races ranging in distance from the one-hundred-meter dash to the forty-kilometer marathon. In the original games it was the custom to crown the winner of each race with a wreath of wild olive, symbol of victory.

Undoubtedly, the keen-minded Apostle Paul knew of the Olympic games and of the custom of crowning each victor with an olive wreath. In his first epistle to the church at Corinth, a city not far from Athens, he declared in words which are as forceful and meaningful today as when he wrote them (9:24-27): "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And 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 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 am means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

Here, in his usual compelling manner, Paul aroused the people from superficiality. He knew that the prize for spiritual-mindedness was available to everyone, everywhere. It was common knowledge that no runner would be ready to race unless he had trained thoroughly and included temperance and self-control in his daily preparation. The runner had to be alert to get off to a good start so as not to be disqualified, and then to keep his eye on the goal and to devote his whole attention to running his best until he reached it.

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July 9, 1955

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