In order to succeed athletes must stay in excellent physical condition. Their success is measured by their performance. Every day the media chronicles high-profile athletes with their stories of sacrifice, hard work and physical training. They keep their bodies in peak condition through a disciplined schedule of daily workouts and good nutrition. They train to win. Paul refers to the Christian life as a race in which the winner receives a prize…an eternal prize. You don’t win a race without training. Disciple comes from the word discipline. If the Christian life is a race, we need to be disciplined and allow Jesus to be our personal trainer to keep our body, mind, soul and spirit working toward the ultimate goal—eternal life in Jesus Christ. We often spend more time attending to our physical condition than our spiritual condition. While keeping our bodies healthy is very important, how much more important is the health of our spirit.
Ec 3:1; Phil 4:13; Jn 16:33; Ro 7:15, 24-25; 1 Co 9:24-27; He 12:1
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
(Ro 7:15) Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Ro 7:24-25) “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)
Although life is filled with troubles, much of which we cannot plan for or control, there are many times that we get to choose between pain now or pain later. You can choose the pain of living within your means now or the pain of debt down the road. You can choose the pain of taking care of your body now or the pain of potential bad health as you grow older. You can choose the pain of studying now or the pain of retaking the class in the future. Discipline is required to choose the pain now in order to avoid the pain of bad consequences later. You must decide what you want most—better health, a great marriage, a college degree, freedom from addiction. Once you decide what is most important to you, figure out what you need to do now in order to achieve what you want most in the future. If you choose a great marriage, that means talking with your spouse, maybe going for counseling, making your marriage a priority. If you choose a better job, you may need to go back to school, take night classes, get some tutoring, sharpen your skills. Pain now or pain later. Decide what you want most and ask Jesus to give you the strength to deny your wants now and run for the prize, the big win later!
In what area of life are you most proud of your discipline? How did this come about? In what area of life is discipline most difficult? Why? Can you identify with Paul when he says he wants to do what’s right, but he doesn’t do it? How have you seen the pain now or pain later scenario play out in your life or in the life of someone else? Who do you consider to be highly disciplined? Why? Do you look at the Christian life as being a race? If it is a race, are you positioned for a strong finish? How much time do you spend exercising your body? How much time do you spend on spiritual workouts? Do you have a spiritual regiment? Explain.
Choose one area of your life that needs discipline so that later you can have what you want most. Write down things you need to do now in order to make your goal a future reality. Start doing the things you need to do rather than the things you want to do. Keep your eye on the prize…what you want most.
Dear Lord, I am weak, but I know that in your strength I can do all things. Help me deny the things I want now in order to gain what I want most in the future. Help me run life’s race and the Christian race with passion and determination. I want to experience the power of your Spirit working in and through me so I can become all that you want me to be. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.