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
Imagine that you were selected to participate in the Olympics. You received a call from the Olympic committee and they want you to run in the marathon. This is your chance. You picture yourself walking through the opening ceremonies with the most elite athletes in the world, waving to the crowds and accepting your medal. In your head, you hear the National Anthem being played and know, without a doubt, this is your destiny.
Then reality sets in. You can’t run a marathon right now. You haven’t trained. You’ve never even walked 26.2 miles in one day, let alone run that distance. Even if you tried really hard, the best you might do is crawl through the finish line. You can’t even remember the last time you ran around the block, let alone around a city! In order to run the marathon you would have to turn your life around. You would have to enter into a life of strict and disciplined training. You would have to sacrifice. No matter how hard you try, you must train to be successful.
The Christian life is the same. We can hope to be mature followers of Christ, but in the end, unless we train, we cannot finish strong. It is important in life to study the Bible, pray, endure through hard times, seek God’s wisdom, learn, grow and sacrifice. It is all a part of training. Christians do this for the eternal prize, heaven with God. It is important to fix our eyes on Jesus’ example of living faith.
Each day you must chose to train.*
1. What are ways you need to sacrifice in order to run the race for God?
2. What is the purpose of sacrificing and being disciplined in each day of your life?
Hebrews 12:1-4; Philippians 3:13-14; 2 Timothy 4:6-8
*This devotional was inspired by John Ortberg’s book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted.