I do not fight like a boxer beating the air….(1 Cor 9:26).
Boxing in the Isthmian games (that Paul refers to here) was brutal. Some matches lasted for hours as each individual fought hard to the end, giving their very best to win the prize. Paul challenges his readers to think of their life as a Christian like a boxer who is not beating the air, but instead acts as one who will, “strike a blow to my body and make it my slave.” (vs. 27)
Paul understood that the flesh is strong. Our propensity to sin and follow the waywardness of our own foolish hearts is very alluring. It requires a daily dying to ourselves as we strike blow after blow to the old person of sin in us so that righteousness might win out.
MLB baseball player, Josh Hamilton, told a story in his autobiography of a recurring dream he kept having. In this dream, he was fighting the devil, but he kept losing. Until one day he looked beside him and saw Jesus. He and Jesus started fighting the devil together and as they fought him, the devil was defeated.
Many of us are swinging at the wrong things in our lives. We see our circumstances or people who have hurt us and we start directing our blows towards them. Yet, this is not the direction we should be swinging our punches. God will avenge whatever wrong was done to us. Our duty as Christians is to die daily to ourselves, taking captive every thought by making it obedient to Christ and learning to live surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. The only way we can do this is by striking a blow, not at others, but at the old person of sin inside of us who tries to rise up daily to steal our joy and victory in Christ. That person must die and together, with Jesus, as we fight against the devil’s schemes, we will come out the victor!
Abba, you are so good. Why would I ever believe anything different? You are so faithful. Jesus, be my joy, hope, and peace. Today, I strike a blow against the sinful part of me that wants to steal my joy in Christ. I make it my slave, so that I may win as many as possible for the cause of Christ. Lord Jesus, use my life, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.