24 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. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27)
Theme: If not You, then Who?
For those among us who are not sports fans, let me apologize at the outset for the sports analogies in this post. I am blaming this on the Apostle Paul 😊.
One of the sad outcomes of Spiritual warfare is unfruitful labour on the part of Christians. As we saw yesterday, the devil doesn’t want to see believers win. In our passage for today, the Apostle Paul offers a winning approach that is not always popular – self-discipline.
We do not know exactly which games Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 9, but from historical records we know a lot about the games at the time of Paul’s writing. Here is what one of the dignitaries of the day had to say about the games: “If you have worked hard enough to render yourself worthy of going to Olympia, if you have not been idle or ill-disciplined, then go with confidence; but those who have not trained in this fashion, let them go where they will.” It appears that training hard and being disciplined was a part of the sports culture during Paul’s era.
This provides some context for Paul’s passionate statements and highlights the importance of self-discipline for success in spiritual warfare. I must emphasize that being disciplined does not mean that you rely on your own strength. Reliance on God is essential, and we also have our part to play.
Please read the passage above and consider the question below.
What is Paul’s motivation for being so disciplined and why is his motivation important?