All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. –1 Corinthians 9:25-27
Every year at the beginning of January consumers are inundated with advertisements to lose weight, quit smoking, to finish school and more. Companies do what they can to cash in on the “New Year’s Resolutions” tradition. In early January, the weight machines and cardio areas of fitness clubs everywhere are filled with people who are hoping to lose their holiday season weight gain or to start getting into better shape. However, the busyness doesn’t last long. By the end of February or beginning of March, the annual fitness fads die and the crowds thin out as the unmotivated drop off.
Here’s a challenge for you: don’t refer to your spiritual commitments as “New Year’s Resolutions.” Generally, people tend not to keep them. An athlete works out each day and slowly builds muscle, stamina and endurance as they train over the long haul. Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Corinth, tells them that they must discipline themselves like athletes. The Christian walk requires hard work, self-denial, and difficult preparation. You are called to be on the field, not merely a spectator. Christians are called to be disciplined in prayer, reading the Bible and worship. It is these areas that will help you live with purpose and stamina.
Resolve to be disciplined each day by spending time in God’s word and praying so that you can build your spiritual muscles.
1. Have there been periods in your life where you have consistent times with God? Think about the effect that had on your spiritual walk.
2. Athletes often make sacrifices for their training. What is something you can give up in order to make more room for God in your life?
Romans 8:9-12; 2 Corinthians 13:3-6; 2 Timothy 2:3-7