(An excerpt from Cultivating Love: When Secrets Surface by Dr Ken McGill)
Prize is one of the 10 descriptors of Agape, the unique form of love that our Higher Power helps us to develop for our personal benefit and subsequently to be freely, maturely and respectfully demonstrated with others
Prize (Brabeion and Stephanos – NT): Both of these words are used in I Corinthians 9:24-27, and I encourage you to read the passage in the Bible (see below).
Brabeion has a dual meaning here. First it is the Prize or award that goes to the winner of the games, however, a Brabeus is also the Umpire or Judge, who awards the prize, only after determining that the contestants followed the rules, and ran a valid and certifiable race.
Stephanos is the crown or wreath that was placed on the head of the victor, usually by the Brabeus. The prize or crown that was given to the victor or winner of the race, was an ornament and honor bestowed only to one. In the events of the Isthmian games that Paul is referencing, there was only one first-place winner, and we could extrapolate with other games, only one gold medal winner, and only one blue ribbon winner. Only one person won the first place prize.
Practically, in thinking about the Prize, only one person can win. When it comes to your life, and your marriage, who gets the one and only blue ribbon? Who is awarded the gold medal? Who gets the prize? There can only be one winner, and this word helps us to see that the only possible recipient of the prize is your spouse. Only one person gets to receive the crown, with all of the love, esteem, cherish, respect, favor, honor, acceptance, and devotion that love helps you to cultivate than to give to her or him.
The practice of any selfish or addictive behavior caused a default and stole from both of you (John 10:10), as your effort, energy, focus, determination, passion and other characteristics that are necessary to help you to win a race legitimately were given over to producing a traumatic and dysfunctional outcome.
Your recovery is the strict training you engage in (Paul calls it agony in I Corinthians 9:25) that prepares you to compete legitimately in the race where the accurate placement and containment of your passion is always the finish line.
In addition, know that if you would like to have the blue ribbon or gold medal placed around your neck, then it is going to cost you something. You probably did not engage in addictive or reactive efforts half-heartedly. No, you gave it your all.
The repair process and work that is necessary to rebuild your marriage deserves a “blue ribbon” effort as well; your very best. Yes, you could infer that second-place efforts will never win first-place prizes. Give the rebuilding process your very best. Make consistent progress, not perfection, because you and your spouse deserve nothing less than to experience practical and beneficial changes that reflect attentiveness, commitment, enthusiasm, and success in your relationship.
Finally, your spouse deserves the blue ribbon effort on a daily, weekly, monthly and basically, in each micro-season of your marriage. This may mean, like the athlete who competes for the gold medal in the 100-meter Olympic sprint race, your work may resemble 4 years of the strictest training in order to compete in, and win a race that is only 10 seconds long. In other words, you will have to cultivate patience because the gratification and acknowledgment you would like to receive immediately for all of the hard work you have contributed to making the relationship work may be delayed.
Nonetheless, you are encouraged (and need) to contribute work on a day in and day out basis in order to compete for, and to eventually, win the prize. Up for the task? I am sure your spouse will appreciate your effort in helping her or him to experience being #1 in your life.
Reflection Question: “God, based on this definition of Prize, and since self-growth is my responsibility, I will partner with You to cultivate the following behaviors that reflect that I am giving first place energy and effort, because I am worthy of the “blue ribbon,” and worthy to be prized….”
To your spouse: “Since you are the person I’d like to give “gold medal” effort to, what are some behaviors that I could provide that would help you to feel prized?”
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” – 1 Corinthians 9:23 – 27 (NIV)
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