Daily Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27
There is a reason Paul is one of my favorite writers. I’m pretty sure everything he wrote in the Bible was put there just for me. These 4 verses are no different.
Being one who has made life-changing decisions to eat right, exercise more, and live a healthier life, these verses should be totally self explanatory, right? Teamwork, determination, sacrifice, discipline, perseverance, fitness… It doesn’t matter if we’re about to run a marathon, shoot some hoops, or watch a baseball game from our couch, we all want to dive in to these verse and interpret them as athletic metaphors for the faith.
But, the more I studied this passage, the more I realized it’s not just a sports analogy. It’s so much more!
Let’s take a deeper look.
Verse 24 starts out with a rhetorical question about the victor of a race. This isn’t like one of those 5Ks where participants get their medal before the race even begins. In this race, only the first to cross the finish line wins the prize. Paul is say that in the “exercise” of our faith, it should be our determination to be like that victor. But, I also want you to notice that Paul seems to focus more on the way the race is run, not just on the victory. When comparing that to our faith, it’s not the parallel of victor as much as it is the type of effort and dedication we put forth in order to attain said victory.
Now, look at verse 25. It basically confirms the parallels mentioned in verse 24. It’s not the runner’s victory or even the prize that really matters. Paul says, “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” The athletes seeking to win the prize must exercise self-control in everything. The prize the victor wins in just a pale imitation of the imperishable wreath we as Christians are striving toward.
Let’s move on to verse 26. Self control is still the focus in this verse. A Christian “athlete” has to train with a purpose, and not aimlessly or in vain like a boxer who only hits the empty air around him.
Now, let’s get to verse 27. We’re still talking about the self-control. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” We ALL know that in order to keep our body under subjection, to fight temptation, and to live a healthy, more active life, we must first exercise self control. But, Paul isn’t just talking about enhancing his body or self-improvement. Instead, he goes on to finish the verse by saying, “let that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul wants us to live a life that aligns toward one goal: proclaiming the good news of Christ.
I read lots and lots of commentaries who all said the same thing about verse 27. Forgive me as I paraphrase, but they all basically say, “If we expect other people to live clean, eat healthy, and exercise, we have to do it first, and we have to do it better. Otherwise, all we are is a big, fat hypocrite.”
I do agree with this. I’m not saying they’re wrong. When I took on the role of writing this study, I knew that I was going to have to live my life in a way that would encourage and inspire each one of you to make better choices. I can’t encourage you to eat right and exercise if I’m sitting on my couch eating bon bons all day. You would get nothing from the study, and I would be the worst leader ever. Instead, I’ve had to work harder, study harder, and be worthy to lead you all to a real change in your life. (I don’t know that I will ever feel worthy of that, but I’m sure you understand what I’m saying.)
But, as I studied this more and more, it all really has nothing to do with sports, but instead, it has to do with living our life to share the gospel. I honestly think we can do this just by the type of life that we live. I want to be that girl who people see and they say, “Wow. There’s something different about her. I want what she has.” I don’t want them saying it because of how I look, but because of how I live my life. I want Jesus to shine through me in all that I do.
As we are over the halfway hump, and rolling into the 3rd week, don’t lose sight of why we’re doing this. Sure, we want to look better, feel better, and be healthy. But, don’t you want more than that? Don’t you want to grow your life in Christ so that you can proclaim the “good news” without ever saying a word?
Take some time today and think about why you have the goals that you set when we first started this challenge.
1. What were your original goals when we started this group? Have they changed?
2. If your goals have changed, what are they now? Are you willing to press toward those goals for the next two weeks?
Exercise at least 30 minutes and drink 8 glasses of water.