By David Martz
Today's Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24–27
Central Thought: Getting into shape spiritually requires discipline.
Line drills were my worst nightmare when training for the basketball team. Whether I liked them or not, they helped to strengthen my body so I could keep up with my teammates and our opponents. Keeping up was not really our goal; we trained to outperform the other teams on the court so we could win the game.
Paul was not focusing on physical endurance but on spiritual discipline. He was not thinking just in terms of the spiritual fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22)—that is, victory over sin—but of a mastery over his flesh to achieve or win a prize. Remember, Paul had just talked about the priority of love over personal liberty; now he takes aim at the goal of eternal life and focuses every effort towards that objective.
Perhaps you have seen a believer beat up (intellectually) by a cultist or an atheist. Likewise, it is sad to see nonbelievers living principled lives that exceed the morality of believers. Some believers simply are not in shape to witness effectively for Christ, either through their lives or by their knowledge of God. Good training involves diet (the Word of God), exercise (Christian service), discipline, and steadfastness. Spiritually, self-control involves the elements of repentance from sin and establishing Christ as Lord in one's life in order to accomplish a divine purpose: the salvation of sinners.
Schedule a spiritual checkup to determine your fitness to effectively serve Christ. Let's start training for the Bema judgment seat of Christ where every believer will receive a prize on the basis of the race (life) they run (lead) here on earth. Think eternity!
Devotional Prayer: Father, awaken our souls to the lostness of humanity and our own spiritual condition. Reveal to us how we can become more effective as witnesses of the gospel. In Jesus' name, amen.
Today's Bible Reading: Nehemiah 9:22–10:39; 1 Corinthians 9:19–10:13; Psalm 34:1–10; Proverbs 21:13