Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Real Pro

A Real Pro

“All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25 – New Living Translation).

I watched a very famous basketball player perform marvelously in a game in which he was extremely ill. Previous to the game, many of the sports newscasters were reporting that it was very possible that the man would not play because of the severity of his illness. However, this was the playoffs. In the playoffs you either win or go home. So, this player gathered all his physical reserve and made a tremendous showing. He wanted to win and he wanted his team to win. It was such an extraordinary effort that nearly every time a story of about Michael Jordan is done that game is mentioned.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he likens his Christian walk to the discipline a professional athlete exercises. Paul says that they deny themselves much so that they can win a prize that is temporary. He goes on to say that the discipline he employs is that which will win an eternal prize.

Jesus told us to bear our cross daily. He knew that denying our selfish desires would keep us from the prize. He understood that to win, we need to deny ourselves some of the things we like most.

Think about it like this…how long would a fly weight boxer last in his division if all he ate was fudge? Not too long, right? As a matter of fact, Paul said, “So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches” (1 Corinthians 9:26 –NLT). A fly weight boxer, if he didn’t get kicked out of his weight class, would get too heavy to effectively throw and elude punches.

So, what weight is holding back your Christian discipline? What areas of your walk with Christ do you need to practice more strict self control?

According to the Bible, the weight that holds us down is sin. So if we want to win this eternal trophy we need to take the advice of Hebrews 12:1b; “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (NKJV). You may say, “I have tried!” I know I have and I am sure you have too. What, then, is the way? According to Hebrews 12:2a, we are to look “…unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (NKJV). You see friend, Christ has won for us. We must claim His victory and make it ours. We must lay our sins at the foot of the cross and cast our yoke upon Him. You will never be disciplined in this spiritual contest on your own.

To be a real pro in this contest; to exercise control; to win is to take on Christ sacrifice. Is the prize worth the surrender to you today?

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