Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Long Run
As Christians we are to practice disciplines. Prayer, Scripture reading, giving, serving, worship, and fasting are all disciplines. That is, they are meant to train us, to alter our worldview, to hone us as an athlete preparing to compete in an event or a soldier preparing for battle. Again, we don’t do these things to win God’s favor or impress Him. We do them so that we can meet the challenges of life, both our current physical existence and the great unknowns of the next life.
Our efforts are not merely for their own sake. We are not shadow-boxing. Our disciplines have a purpose and a goal in furthering the expansion and development of the kingdom.
The idea that we keep ourselves under control reflects what we referenced yesterday from Romans 8 where Paul talks about not owing anything to the flesh. I look at my thoughts and my impulses, and I see clearly that some of these things are not of the Spirit. Instead of making excuses for myself, I reject these things. They are functions of the old nature which has been put to death. I no longer own them, and the old man need no longer have any jurisdiction in my life, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
The race here is not between you and I. We are not in competition with other Christians or with non-Christians to see who is going to get the glory on the world’s stage. The race is between Adam and Christ. Only one is going to win. Only one is going to take the podium in my life or yours. We can remain in Adam and defeat, or we can bring ourselves under the spiritual disciplines and run in Christ for the victory.