As some of you may know, a few years ago, I started to run. I have to confess, I probably moaned more than I ran in the beginning. The moaning has died down, but I am not really passionate about it still. This week the rain has come every day, and I confess, I am only a fair-weather runner.
Friday afternoon the sun came out. It was lovely, and as I looked out, I felt a twinge of something, suggesting that I ought to make the most of it, and get out for a run! Sadly, the couch and a quiz show triumphed and I didn’t go!
I was pondering this, and it came to me that there is a spiritual analogy in this. Running is good for me, but only if I do it! Thinking about it, joining a Facebook Group that talks about running, or watching running on TV is not running!
There are lots of things like that in our Christian walk; reading the Word, going to church, praying, speaking in tongues… These are all things we can think about, talk about, watch on live-stream or read books about, but there’s no substitute for doing them!
As ‘grace’ people we can often get phased by the implication that we’re moving from Christ’s freedom into legalism and works, and so we should, because we cannot earn God’s love or blessings by our own merit, but discipline isn’t a word that Paul was afraid of either. Discipline is in it’s simplest form, is talking about self-control.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (TPT) Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. For that reason, I don’t run just for exercise or box like one throwing aimless punches, but I train like a champion athlete. I subdue my body and get it under my control, so that after preaching the good news to others I myself won’t be disqualified.
Paul tells us that we need to train ourselves, learn to be disciplined, not so God will love us more, but because we value and desire the prize. An athlete doesn’t train because he has to, he trains because he wants to win!
We can still employ God’s grace, asking him to help us do the things that we need to, but ultimately, it is going to be your hands that pick up your bible, or your mouth that prays, your feet that takes you where you need to go, and sometimes you will need to set your flesh in it’s right place and tell it who’s boss! This is self-control.
God never loves us any the less, but we can chose to live our lives as spiritual couch potatoes if we want to! Today I encourage you with this thought: God has given you everything you need for life and godliness, and the fruit of his spirit in your life includes self-control. Exercise that and do what you need to do to enjoy the fulness of the Christian life – pick up your bible, turn off the TV, get to your local church, get up earlier, pray… Whatever you feed in your life grows. So feed the faith that is already in you and see where it takes you!