1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Many of us do not overcome in certain areas because we lack self-discipline. We may gain some ground and get things accomplished, but there seems to be ONE thing (or a few) that keep us from growing. Even as you read these two sentences, that thing (or things) have already come to your mind. That ONE thing stands in your way of greater discipline in the Lord.
1. We have our good days where we’re focused on and point. However, it’s not sustained for a long period of time. We hold up for a day or two, then we slowly slide back into our old habits, traits, and even sins. It is our lack of discipline that keeps us from staying at a consistent level of purpose and focus.
2. The Spirit is always willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). Even as Jesus spoke to Peter before His betrayal concerning the temptation to await him, there are many that await us as well. Our flesh is weak against the onslaught of temptation. It wants to give into every delicacy to please itself. That’s all it wants – to be pleased and satified. The flesh doesn’t care who it hurts or what it has to do to get it – it just wants what it wants.
But isn’t God suppose to help me?!
3. God will help you, but God will not make you. Many people believe that God will make them live right and put the responsibility on Him. It is His desire that none would be lost (2 Peter 3:9), but many will choose to live outside of His will. Holiness is a choice that we must choose to make, and God will help us make that decision if we choose. For example, read the book of Jonah. God told Jonah to go to a Ninevah to speak to the people and Jonah went the opposite direction. God did many things to get Jonah’s attention, but He did not make him go to Nineveh.
4. Where we are weak, we can call out to the Lord to help us. Paul illustrated this in his second letter to the church in Corinth:
2 Corinthians 12:6-10 – For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
God’s grace is sufficient for us, but many will not want it or call upon Him in the day of temptation/testing. They will give into the temptation as they ‘feel’ or led to believe it is their only course of action, but giving in is not the only choice. We can live for God!
Now, going back to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul speaks about those that run in a race. The people that run, do so to win the prize that only one of them can receive. In order for them to win the prize, they discipline themselves (and train) so that they have the best opportunity to win. Paul tells the people of Corinth that those people run for an corruptible crown and they should run (their lives of faith) for the incorruptible one.
5. We should not run aimlessly, but keep our bodies under subjection. If we fight aimlessly, we may hit a lot of things, but we will not hit the things we need to with purpose. Our focus is not centered, but scattered, and our chances at winning are lessened. Paul says that he keeps his body under subjection for fear that when he preaches to others, he himself would not be a castaway (from receiving the eternal prize). We must keep our bodies in subjection as well. The flesh does not want to do ‘right,’ and the second you give it an opportunity to stretch, it’s going to run too.
6. Live a disciplined life each day. Many people are not taught to live with discipline. We’re not shown how to live with purpose and on purpose – how to live a disciplined life everyday (or each moment). However, you don’t have to live in the moment with your flesh in charge. Put it back into submission and live in righteousness before God. That ‘thing’ you need to do, you CAN do it!
Make the choice.
Make the decision.
Call on God for help.
Take back your time.
Take back your life.
You only have one to live.
It’s time to work and win the prize. Go get it!
Photo courtesy of CreationSwap/paulcarlson