Exercise is Good For You
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”
I Corinthian 9:25 (ESV)
Officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, the 2016 Olympic Games will take place in Brazil during August. Although the modern Olympic Games didn’t originate until 1896, their history can be traced back to 776 BC – when they were dedicated to pagan gods.
The apostle Paul was probably familiar with the Olympics, and the more frequent Isthmian Games that took place in Corinth. Obviously, the Corinthian church members would have been acquainted with the events, enabling Paul to use an analogy to convey an important point in the context of daily living.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.” (I Corinthians 9:24-25)
Paul likens the Christian life to a race – and there are many analogies that can be drawn from the parallel. But let’s consider just one key phrase, ‘Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.’ Preparing for such events takes a great deal of dedication. Training regimes may mean giving up certain activities and pleasures in order to get the body into good trim.
The same principle is true of the Christian life. We are in training for action both now and beyond this physical life. And that means going without ‘things’ which slow down or render us unfit for the challenges that are ahead. Paul describes these ‘things’ as the “works of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-21).
For the athletes who succeed in Rio, there will be medals to treasure. But there is only one winner in each contest. However, all Christians are winners – thanks to the One who completed the righteousness race for us. Jesus Christ made it to the winning line. And because He did, all those in the Christian ‘race’ are assured of their own ‘medal’ in the shape of eternal life.
That doesn’t mean we just sit back and relax. Although each of us is enabled to be a winner, we need to exercise self-control and set aside anything that might hinder us from reflecting the life of Jesus Christ in our daily lives.
Father, we thank you that Jesus has run the race that enables each of us to be a winner. Like the athletes who prepare for their competitions, help us to put aside all those activities and thoughts that hinder us in the race that is our daily life. In Jesus name we ask.
Study by Philip Stevens
Worldwide Church of God Great Baddow
United Reformed Church
CHELMSFORD CM2 7HH
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