A couple weeks ago while watching a football game on TV, someone commented about how much the players push themselves physically. Immediately I thought of the words of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 9:24-27. In this passage he talks of how he disciplines his body and puts it into subjection so that he wouldn’t become disqualified. I have to ask myself whether or not I’m following the example Paul has left us to follow. Am I disciplining, or pushing myself, as I ought to in my pursuit of and devotion to Christ? What about you? When was the last time you asked yourself that question?
It’s easy for us to say we’re doing good if we haven’t fallen into any of the “big” sins dancing in front of us wherever we look, but does that mean we’re pushing ourselves as we should be? Probably not. Think about it. We can pat ourselves on the back if we haven’t been involved in adultery, drugs, alcoholism, or murder. But what about gossip, compromise, gluttony, and other not so big and subtle sins? Have we pushed ourselves to stay clear of these, or have we played “patty-cake” with them thinking we’re still okay, and that God “understands”?
It’s sometimes rather funny, and yet sad at the same time, to hear of some of the rationalizing people devise within themselves to make allowances for behavior that is contrary to the heart and nature of God. We are called to be transformed into the image of Christ, to be His ambassadors to a lost and dying world. As such, we should then be pushing ourselves to live in a way that is honoring and pleasing in God’s sight, refraining from and dying to the sins that so easily beset us. We are all tempted to sin, no matter how big or small it may be. James tells us in James 1:12-16 that we are tempted when we’re drawn away by our own desires and enticed. Our flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the nature of Christ, and to surrender to those desires is simply sin. Are we content with living as we have been, or are we pushing forward to become more like Christ in all we do? You know, to be content with living as we have been, making allowances for things in our life that should not be, that in itself is sin, the sin of complacency.
People talk about how hard it is to turn from the different temptations and sins we face continually. The writer of Hebrews reminds us in Hebrews 12:4 that we have not yet resisted to bloodshed striving against sin. Where is our resistance to sin, and where is our pursuit and commitment to live as we ought for the sake of Christ and the Gospel? Is this something we can do on our own, with our own will power, or do we need help to do this? We cannot resist sin and purpose to live as we ought in our own will power. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to do this, and that requires us to be sensitive to His voice and obedient to His leading, but it is up to us to resist and depend on Him, leaving the rest to Him.
I think it is safe to say that we all could be doing a better job of pushing ourselves for the Kingdom. As the day of Jesus’ return for His bride draws ever so close, it becomes more and more important that we push ourselves for Him. If the Apostle Paul, himself, was concerned enough about finding himself disqualified for salvation to the point that he trained and fought as though only one wins the prize, then how much more should we as we consider Paul’s resume compared to our own? Let us this day renew our commitment to live for and pursue Him, to surrender our desires and very life to Him, so that we too can be assured of winning the prize.