“… Run in such a way that you may win.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
Our society is more passive and resigned than we know. Fathers are often distant and hands-off, though called to be the primary shapers and molders of their children’s character. Parents allow habits and behaviors that are clearly unhealthy, because we either do not wish to rock the boat in the home, or we are guilty of “letting things go” in our own lives and thus cannot lead the charge of reform. Enslavement to the body and the self-will is reckoned as “freedom,” while true freedom in Christ is perceived as “bondage,” or at least “religious fanaticism.” When the quest to “be happy” is the cardinal moral of a society, it has swallowed the devil’s bait; we begin to avoid what is difficult, painful, demanding or humbling, and even feel virtuous for doing so! “Follow your heart,” we say, unaware that we are exhibiting faithless, pliable behavior, and becoming over time the cowardly slaves of every whim of our wandering psyche.
Even among believers we may find the fatalistic belief in “destiny” or a fixed predetermination of events. A Christian may believe that events just “happen” to him, that he is “along for the ride,” but such a fantasy yields the rotten fruit of prayerlessness, carelessness, and spinelessness. We can become like Eli, who did not remove his immoral children from serving the Lord as leaders in Israel. After being confronted by God’s threat of judgment, Eli did not fall to his knees in repentance and tears, but said, “Let [the Lord] do what seems good to Him” (1 Samuel 3:18).
This feeble resignation is ungodly. C.S. Lewis said that Christianity is a “fighting religion.” The Christian life is a marathon in which we run enduringly with our eyes fixed on winning the prize. Note how, in 1 Corinthians 9:26, Paul explained that he did not run “without aim” and he refused to box as if “beating the air.” We must decide not to go on yielding to the wandering whims of our own hearts. Why not choose this day to repent in any areas where we have done this, and to commit ourselves once again exclusively to God’s will and service? Yes, you and I were made to serve His purposes, rather than stumbling around in our own.
Paul said, “I discipline my body and make it my slave” (9:27). If I am going to be an obedient child of God and a loving bondslave of Christ, I must take charge of all that has been entrusted to me, whether children, giftings, free time, or my own body. I have to say, “Away with passivity,” even in private matters. We all have earthly bodies that have desires. Passivity means that, when my body sends signals to my brain regarding its desires, I simply allow my brain to find a means of satisfying the body’s felt need. 1 Corinthians 9:27 paints a different picture: my soul, under submission to my spirit which is united to the Holy Spirit, should actually command my brain to take captive each cue of bodily desire and filter them all through one question: “Can I satisfy this desire within the will of Christ?” If yes, my brain may oblige my body’s request. If no, I must reject the cue. Even good desires, like physical hunger, should be denied at times to grow closer to Christ. Being the slave of bodily desires is no less outrageous or alarming than telling our little children to dictate the rules of the home, make dinner, and hold a job, while we sit around and play with toys. Lord, help me take charge of all I have so I can be fully Yours!
The Rock Church