1 Corinthians 9:26
- (NLT) I am not just shadowboxing.
- (ESV) I do not box as one beating the air.
- (GNB) that is why I am like a boxer who does not waste his punches.
- (EMTV) Therefore I run thus: not as without a goal, thus I box: not as one beating the air. [note the similarity in sense of not without goal and not as one beating the air.]
Now Paul focuses on another event of the Ithmian Games, that of boxing. The phrase “beating the air” is taken from the habits of the boxers. There was a practice before the contest began, to shadow box to show bravado. This was called σκιᾷμαχία skiamachia, a mock-battle, or fighting the air. The boxer would strike the air with his fists with no adversary before him; only showing what he could do if he had an opponent.
The phrase also is applicable to a “missing the aim,” when a blow was struck in a real struggle, and when the adversary would duck or move his head to avoid the blow, so that the punch would not connect. It is more likely the last idea which Paul has in mind. He “did not miss his aim”; he did not exert himself and spend his strength for nothing. Every blow that he struck told; and he did not waste his energies on that which would produce no result. He did not strive with uncertain blows; but all his efforts were directed, with good result to the purpose of bringing his opponent down and bringing everything into submission to God.
Paul could also be inferring he did not fight with his own shadow, or with a man of straw, or beat the empty air. But rather he hit real adversaries, Satan, the world, and the flesh; the latter is particularly mentioned in the next verse.
The effort of many Christians is merely beating the air. The energy is expended for nothing. There is a lack of wisdom, or skill, or perseverance; there is a failure of plan; or there is a mistake in regard to what is to be done, and what should be done. There is often among Christians very little “aim” or object; there is no “plan;” and the efforts are wasted, scattered and inefficient. Besides, many set up a man of straw and fight that. They fancy error and heresy in others and oppose that. They become “heresy-hunters;” or they oppose some irregularity in religion that, if left alone, would die of itself; or they fix all their attention upon some minor evil, and they devote their lives to the destruction of that alone. When death comes, they may have never struck a blow at one of the real and dangerous enemies of the gospel; and the simple record on the tombstone might he, “Here lies one who spent his life beating the air.”
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.Muhammad Ali
Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.Muhammad Ali
The man who has no imagination has no wings.Muhammad Ali
It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.Evander Holyfield
A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.Jack Dempsey