Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
~1 Corinthians 9:25
Athletics in first century Greek culture was a popular and disciplined pursuit, and how much more so now! We in the 21st century are awash in diet fads, professional sports, health food crazes, personal trainers, crowded gyms, and so much more. Staying healthy is an American obsession, and those who want to lose weight “exercise self-control in all things” because they are motivated by the goal of losing five or ten pounds. If we are willing and eager to bring discipline to every area of our lives for the simple prize of losing a couple pounds, how much more should we be willing and eager to pursue discipline for the sake of an infinitely greater prize!
You eagerly read the newest self-help diet book, you count calories when you’re out at a restaurant, you go to the gym every day, you wake up early every morning to go running… but do you eagerly read God’s Word, strive to put sin to death in your life, go out of your way to serve others, and wake up early every morning to pursue God in prayer? Exercise and health and fitness is important, but what is more important to you? Has the “perishable wreath” of size 2 jeans or bigger biceps become an idol that displaces the “imperishable wreath” of knowing God and making Him known? Paul is very clear here: pursuing God does not mean abandoning the pursuit of reward: pursuing God means pursuing the GREATEST reward- the reward of Himself. Are you pursuing the greatest prize?
Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of my faith, Give me faith to run with endurance the race that is set before me, with my eyes fixed on You, following Your example by pursuing the joy that is set before me. I want to want You, but my fickle heart chases after wreaths that perish and fade and earthly treasure that vanishes through moth and rust and thieves. Grant me the joy of Your Holy Spirit to bring a greater desire for the imperishable and all-satisfying prize of knowing You.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” ~Jim Elliot
This post is written by Brendan Beale, author of Cross Connections