â€œEveryone who competes in the games goes into strict training to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.â€ 1 Corinthians 9:25.
As I am writing this article, the XXX Olympic Games in London, England has now been underway for a few days and the best athletes from around the world are showcasing their incredible talents in the hopes of securing a medal for themselves and the country they represent.
The amount of training and discipline one must undergo to reach this level of athletic skill is next to amazing and no one gets to compete in these types of games unless they are totally dedicated to their sport each and every day of their lives while they train.
The Apostle Paul in writing to the Corinthians in ancient Greece (the originating country of the Olympic Games), used this sporting event to convey a similar type of message of dedication when it came to oneâ€™s Christian faith and how it gets worked out here while we walk on this planet.
He wasnâ€™t saying that one had to work to achieve oneâ€™s salvation for we know we are simply saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Instead, the issue has to do with oneâ€™s state of salvation, how it is lived out day by day whether walking by the whims and desires of our human way of thinking or acting, or walking in the ways of the Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22 this same Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit and one attribute of that fruit living in the Christian believer is the spiritual marker of self-control or self-discipline, something every athlete, believer or unbeliever knows is imperative to winning a crown.
Again Paul in 2 Tim. 1:7 says: â€œFor God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.â€
Strict training in the things of the faith are not meant to make us legalistic or feel more superior to others, but instead its purpose is to remind us that we are getting prepared and trained for something far greater than what we are presently experiencing here in this world.
Every act of kindness we share even when it is inconvenient or difficult is disciplining ourselves to walk like Jesus walked. Every temptation we overcome in His name, every act of worship, every prayer, every gift of love we express to others reminds us we belong to a different Kingdom that is not of this world.
The truth is most of us can struggle from time to time with the spiritual attribute of self-discipline when it comes to a host of things in the Christian faith, but for the Spirit-filled believer it is a way of life and the work doesnâ€™t end until the final call to come home is made by God himself, or when Jesus returns in power and glory to take His chosen ones back with Him to his heavenly kingdom.
How goes the training for the crown that will never fade away?Â Maybe itâ€™s time to shake off the dust of those spiritual sneakers and get back into the running of the heavenly games!