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So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
As we enter the third month of the first quarter, I see a lot of people, including myself, assessing New Year's Resolutions and recommitting to goals. Some of us may find that we have fallen off track a little bit. Some of us may find that we need bigger goals. Some of us may find that we never started towards the initial goals we set for ourselves in the first place. I think we can see in this text the importance of actually being intentional for the sake of effectiveness and not appearing undisciplined and not qualified.
Reading this text I automatically think about athletics. I've tried really hard to think of another analogy or way to relate this text to our everyday life. The reality is, there is no getting around how much the Bible in general talks about taking care of our body. I was reminded, though, of a recent event in the news where Sha'Carri Richardson, an American track and field sprinter who competes in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, won the 100 meter race in Eugene, Oregon during Olympic trials. She was later disqualified and the win was nullified as a result of failing a drug test, testing positive for marijuana. I don't want to debate the legitimacy of this rule right now, or the subsequent double standard with the Russian skater Kamila Valieva being allowed to compete having testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. I will, however, as an athlete myself acknowledge that this marijuana use before a competition was probably not the best example of taking care of your body. Why make this decision at the risk of losing credibility as an athlete, an Olympic level athlete, and even a role model and spokesperson? Why make this decision at the risk of missing out on her goals (i.e. representing the US in the Olympics)?
No really… why??
I wonder how often we also make questionable decisions at the risk of missing out on a goal or getting off track. And not just when it comes to our physical bodies. We all understand the benefits of eating healthy, working out, limiting stress, etc. But what about our overall body of work? Our reputation? Our end goals..
If we don’t have the ability to make the necessary sacrifices, basically, to be disciplined, we will ultimately miss.
Without discipline, your goals aren't goals, they are just obscure dreams. We have to be prepared to actually do the work, lest we become worn down and disqualified. There are just some things we need to do (or not do) that help us to move in purpose! Not just go through the motions (shadowboxing, as the scripture says). And this requires discipline.
My commitment for this month is to be like President Joe Biden and "Build Back Better". That means there are some old habits I need to break and new habits I need to create. What about you? Do you need to get back in the gym, clean up your diet, read your Bible more, spend more time in prayer and meditation, spend more time with family, be a nicer person, stop frivolous spending, stop procrastinating…(add yours here…)
Being intentional and disciplined helps you:
Stay on track with your targets! Without routine plans tend to fail
Stay consistent! You won't always have motivation so discipline helps you stay committed
Remain equipped and qualified! Not allowing distractions or temptations to deter you
Ya'll - Read this full chapter, please. It's interesting because Paul seems to be qualifying himself as an apostle, responding to critics who question his authority and sincerity. "Didn't I see Jesus with my own eyes". Then he goes into others getting paid for the work they do, but he doesn't require payment for preaching the gospel (even though people do provide for him). He says that if he was doing this based on his own merit, he would require payment, but since God called him, he doesn't. His reward is being able to do this work without charge, he enjoys operating in his purpose! He then shifts into methods he uses to relate to people in order to win souls. Then he shifts again! Talking about athletes and disciplining his body (our key text) so he doesn't become disqualified. Now, I had to read this 100x and open some concordances to understand these transitions and what Paul meant by "being disqualified" and "his body". Basically he's saying all this and closes the way he does to say: he must stay disciplined in purpose and body so his ministry isn't in vain and so he's actually living out what he preaches! (unlike the athletes noted above with dishonest tactics). He says that while other people may operate in order to get an earthly prize, for their own glory, his prize is eternal! Paul is confirming that while he is preaching to others about the finish line, the prize in heaven, he is not willing to miss the eternal prize for himself! And in order to achieve that, he must be disciplined in his physical body and body of ministry!
Long story short, don't just go through the motions, in ministry or in your personal life!
Actually practice what you preach!
Make sure your work is not for your own vanity but that you are clear, consistent and qualified.
Make sure you are disciplined in your work AND your body. Many preachers say that God can't use a broke down Christian. Well, I say… He can, but it won't be for long.
So let's refocus and recommit to disciplined behavior.
Let's commit to Building Back Better. In order to do so, we must Break bad habits and Build new ones!
Live outside the box. Live in purpose. Live on purpose.
Peace. Blessings. Love.
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