Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, May 28, 2015

He Called Disciples

But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. -- 1 Corinthians 9:27

Paul was not a complacent Christian.  Leading up to this verse, he compares our life in Christ to a race in the Olympic Games and to a wrestling match or boxing match. 

You have to play by the rules:   Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? (Matthew 7:21-22) Not everyone who enters the race will finish. 

We know from Philippians 3:12 that the Apostle did not claim to have attained perfection.  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Every day there are new challenges.  We struggle; we stumble; we start again.  A little further on in his First Epistle to the Church at Corinth, Paul says, “I die every day!” (1 Corinthians 15:31)

There is no place for complacency in our walk, but there is also no place for discouragement or despair.  Like Paul, like the Lord Himself, our lives have to be marked by humility and meekness.  We are what we are by God’s grace.  He calls us ever “further up and further in”, and there are times when the way is steep.  The undisciplined – like me – we’ll need all the help we can get.  I struggle with pride and smugness, too -- which seems contradictory, but some of us are prone to over-steering.  

Perhaps I am apathetic about the hard things and overly impressed with how well I do on the easy things.  In any case, I need to be on guard, watching, praying, calling myself out, and refusing to jump to my own defense if someone else calls me out.  When I come to the end, I’d like to be able to say, or have it said of me, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).  With that I would be content.

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