Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize… (1 Cor 9:24).
Years ago, I was working out at the gym and I was pushing myself as I was going from one exercise to the next. An older gentleman comes up to me and says, “What are you training for?” Since I had no special event I was preparing for I said, with a smirk on my face, “I’m training for life.”
Paul uses athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 to help his reader see what living the Christian life should look like. It is a life of training, discipline, and preparation. We are, in essence, “training for life.” A life of Godliness and growth. A life of dying to sin. A life of living in grace, so that God’s love may abound in us more and more.
Yes, this is the life we must live as Christians. A life devoted to our Lord. Where we train our bodies and our minds to submit, grow and change. As we do, the Holy Spirit births within us more and more of the love and grace of God.
Every athlete gives up something to dedicate themselves to their sport. They forgo the second piece of chocolate cake, or go for a run instead of vegging out on the couch. Every Christian must learn to discipline themselves in a similar manner. Instead of looking at social media for just a “few more minutes” we must lay that aside to get into God’s word. Instead of indulging in our comforts we must become people of prayer. Instead of allowing our minds to become lazy, we must train and discipline them for spiritual warfare by memorizing scripture.
All of this is easier said than done, but you see every athlete gives up something because they love their sport. Do we love God so much that the thought of giving something up is greater than the alternative? Does the thought of disciplining ourselves to prepare for the work of God overwhelm our hearts and minds as we think about joining God in His work?
Its time to start training your hands for war. Do it because you love what you have committed yourself to. Not out of obligation or duty. Let the love you have for God be what drives you forward as you discipline yourself to grow and mature in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, I’m ready. I’m ready to do Kingdom work for you. Although sometimes I’m afraid, I’m ready to give things up so that I can grow and mature. Lord, use my life to further your Kingdom. Let my life be an offering to you. I long to live in your grace. I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.