1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
On October 30, 2002 Herm Edwards, coach of the New York Jets football team (which had two wins that year) delivered a statement that would forever define his career .
When asked if his team had already given up, Edwards responded by saying “hello! You play to win the game! You don’t play it to just play it! 
It’s obvious from the coaches response that in his eyes many of his players were just playing it to play it (realizing this was a losing season they didn’t give it their all). And more than ten-years later it’s believed he made that statement more as a message to those players than a response to a question.
If the Apostle Paul was alive today he may have paraphrased 1 Corinthians 9:24 by saying “Hello! You play to win the game!”
Many Christians in the Corinthian church had begun only giving themselves half-heartedly to the cause of Christ. Their attempt to obey God and their own desires at the same time resulted in a destroyed testimony.
Paul in this verse gives a stern reminder that only one person is able to win a race…and they should stop just playing around with the Christian life.
It’s important to note the prize isn’t receiving eternal life since this is promised to all of those who place their faith in Christ. Instead the prize is being able to accomplish God’s purpose.
Our purpose as Christians is to fulfill the Great Commission  which includes Salvation, discipleship, and involvement in the local Church so that all mankind can dwell with God in Heaven.
It’s true that God’s glorified with those who run their race with endurance, but there is also a need for us to run with a purpose. So I believe Paul’s point here is only those who are completely focused on the prize  will truly glorify God.
I often find myself playing at Christianity (only giving 75% or 80% instead of everything) and can almost hear the voice of God say “Hello! You play to win the game!”
This doesn’t we will always do the right thing (we are humans after all). But it does mean with the Lord’s help we will be completely focused on reaching other with the Gospel for His glory.
- http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/shutdown-corner/10-years-later-herm-edwards-play-win-game–225650424–nfl.html ↩
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5-iJUuPWis ↩
- Matthew 28:16–20 ↩
- fulfilling the great commission ↩